Why was WOMBAT developed? | AIHI - Australian Institute of Health Innovation
WOMBAT was developed to provide a reliable method for investigating the ways in which health professionals’ work, and communication patterns change, following the introduction of large clinical information systems in hospitals. The aim was to advance existing methods which failed to enable collection of multiple dimensions of work, interruptions and multi-tasking. In this way the WOMBAT tool seeks to reflect a great level of the complexity of clinical work.
Clinical information systems, like other significant health interventions and reforms, often result in changes to work practices and many questions arise regarding the nature and value of those changes. For example, while there is great enthusiasm regarding the ways in which information technologies might streamline clinical work processes and free health professionals from administrative tasks, allowing them greater time in direct care activities, there is very limited empirical evidence to demonstrate whether such outcomes are achieved. Further, evidence that systems may also have negative consequences on some aspects of work efficiency and safety prompted further calls for more rigorous studies in this area.
The absence of rigorous standardised approaches to investigate health professionals’ patterns of work both before and after interventions has hindered the development of a sound evidence-base from which to assess the nature of any changes and their implications. In the informatics field we need better quality data about how systems enhance or disrupt existing patterns of clinical work and communication, so that we can move to re-design systems and/or work practices in ways which avoid any possible negative outcomes and which take advantage of the benefits information technology presents.