EngageEMR: Communicating across transitions of care between hospitalised patients, families and health professionals in effort to optimise engagement in using electronic medical records.

This project is funded by: Australian Research Council. This project is led by Professor Elizabeth Manias, Deakin University.

Poor communication is the most common cause of adverse events, or mistakes that occur in health care environments. In the last 10 years, communication problems have been the cause of adverse events leading to major patient harm in over 80% of cases. Communication problems are particularly prevalent in transitions of care, as patients move between settings and as different health professionals take up responsibility in caring for patients. Patients with complex care needs are particularly at risk of communication problems and adverse events. These include patients of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, who are born overseas, or who speak languages other than the official languages of their host country, or who have had parents born overseas. People with multiple chronic conditions, or who consume many medications are also at high risk of communication problems.

Project members

Associate Professor Reema Harrison
Associate Professor

Corey Adams
Clinical Research Officer 

Project Members External

Professor Elizabeth Manias - Monash University

Professor Tracey Bucknall - Deakin

Professor Wickramasinghe - Swinburne University of Technology | Melbourne

Professor Kathleen Gray - University of Melbourne

Project contact

Professor Elizabeth Manias - Deakin

Associate Professor Reema Harrison
E: reema.harrison@mq.edu.au

Project description, aims, design and method

Communication problems are likely to be compounded in interactions involving the use of electronic medical records (EMRs). As EMRs continue to be implemented in hospitals, patients, families and health professionals, who have previously communicated face-to-face, are now confronted by complex modes of interactions. Individuals interact with each other through use of the EMR, mediating their verbal and non-verbal communication, at different time points, across various locations, using a variety of technologies to transmit their discussions. While a recent systematic overview of 108 papers found empirical evidence for beneficial impact of EMRs, our systematic review identified that there is enormous untapped potential for EMRs to mediate enhanced engagement with patients and families, beyond information giving and receiving activities of health professionals. Little is known about how individuals communicate effectively to facilitate optimal engagement with each other in interacting with the EMR, especially for people with complex care needs, such as those of CALD backgrounds. This project addresses an important challenge to achieve better models of health care and services, by investigating how EMRs can be used in communicating with patients about their health, and by creating tailored co-designed strategies that facilitate patient and family engagement and reduce communication disparities for people with complex care needs.

Project aims

The project objectives are to:

  1. Examine the characteristics of communication encounters across transitions of care between hospitalised patients, their families and health professionals in interactions with the EMR.
  2. Determine the relevance and acceptability of actual and potential forms of engagement and sharing in interactions with the EMR.
  3. Develop tailored engagement strategies that are agreed upon between hospitalised patients, their families and health professionals to promote shared engagement with the EMR.
  4. Test the feasibility and acceptability of tailored co-designed strategies to promote engagement with the EMR.


Project status


Centres related to this project

Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research

Content owner: Australian Institute of Health Innovation Last updated: 31 Oct 2023 2:46pm

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