The thesis considers the issue of multimedia data utilisation within modem health care delivery and the consequent need for an appropriate patient records system. The discussions centre upon the deployment and utilisation of IT systems, and paper-based patient records within health care establishments (HCEs), and the resultant problems, such as data duplication, inconsistency, unavailability and loss. Electronic Health Care Records (EHCRs) are put forward as a means of obviating the problems defined, and effectively supporting the future development of care provision in a coherent manner. The thesis identifies the barriers to further development of EHCRs with respect to clinical data entry, clinical terminiologies, record security and the integration of other information sources. Equally, a number of EHCR developments are reviewed. This shows that, although elements of EHCRs (such as electronic prescribing) have been achieved, significant further developments are required to produce composite and comprehensive EHCRs, capable of capturing and maintaining all patient data (especially multimedia data, which is being increasingly utilised within care provision). The thesis defines a new comprehensive and composite Multimedia Electronic Health Care Record (MEHCR) system to facilitate the following: • delivery and management of all patient care; • creation/recording/support and maintenance of patient data (including multimedia data) to give composite and comprehensive multimedia patient records. The assistance of a local HCE was utilised throughout the project, enabling a suitable reference environment to be established and utilised, so that the process of care provision could be defined. The thesis describes how the requirements of the new MEHCR were identified (via examination of the care provision process defined), and thus how an appropriate conceptual design was formulated. This describes the form and capabilities of the required system. The resulting MEHCR is effectively a comprehensive care provision tool, which aids both process of care delivery and that of data generation and recording. Thus, the MEHCR concept facilitates patient care provision whilst aiding the seamless creation and maintenance of multimedia patient records. To achieve the conceptual design, a design environment was defined to give an intermediate means of enabling the MEHCR's implementation and further development. Thus, the MEHCR can be achieved, or implemented, using either a revolutionary or evolutionary approach. Equally, it is a means for enabling the MEHCR's continued evolution (e.g. the incorporation of new clinical systems etc.), so that it remains composite and comprehensive over time as care provision changes. The thesis also describes an evaluation of the ideas defined, based upon the development of a prototype system simulating the form and operations of the MEHCR conceptual design. The prototype system was demonstrated to a number of parties and an evaluation conducted. The results obtained were very positive as to the nature, structure and capabilities of the system as given by the conceptual design. The design environment was also commended as both a practical means of achieving the MEHCR (especially as it enables retaining of existing system where appropriate), and for its future development as care provision advances.

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