CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Computing and Engineering


Laurie P. Dringus

Committee Member

Ling Wang

Committee Member

Martha M. Snyder


Healthcare institutions have migrated to online electronic documentation through the means of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. Physicians rely on these systems to support their various clinical work processes, such as entering clinical orders, reviewing essential clinical data, and making important medical decisions using reporting analytics. Although EHR systems appear to be useful and have known advantages over paper records, studies suggest there are persistent user interface design problems that may hinder physician productivity. The study focused on the research problem that EHR system designs create productivity problems for physician users who frequently report that system workflows are inefficient and do not map to their clinical process needs.

Although researchers have examined EHR system adaptation and user interface design with various stakeholders, research is limited on the lived experiences of physicians who use the system. A few studies have focused on quantifying the factors that describe the phenomena of “meaningful use” of EHR systems. A qualitative approach to studying the phenomenon of physicians' use of EHR systems is understudied and is relevant to investigate given EHR systems have become commonplace tools in clinical settings. An interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) study was conducted with the goal to discover what emergency room physicians describe as the "pain points" of their user experiences with EHR systems, which may include many different experiences to be uncovered, and their perspectives about how they manage the difficulty of system tasks and demands.

Eight participants who represented a purposeful sample were recruited from one hospital in the Southeast region of the United States and participated in semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions. The data derived from the personal lived experiences of the participants were reviewed and analyzed through a step-by-step analytical process to develop five super-ordinate themes: Historical Chart Review, Inadequate Note Documentation, Difficult Order Entry, Patient Throughput Barriers, and Poor System Performance. The findings reveal consistencies with previous research that suggests physicians experience mental burden and burnout using EHR systems due to task complexity, task demand, and inefficiencies of system design. The findings have multiple implications for information technology (IT) system designers, healthcare administrators, and physician end users. This study provides future research opportunities to investigate the experiences of individuals who work in a different specialized area of the hospital, such as the intensive care unit (ICU).