- Melissa L. Welch*, MA, doctoral student, Medical Family Therapy Doctoral Program, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
- Emily C. Tucker*, MS, doctoral student, Medical Family Therapy Doctoral Program, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
- Jennifer Hodgson, PhD, Nancy W. Darden Distinguished Professor & Director, Medical Family Therapy Doctoral Program, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
- Thompson Forbes, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
- Joe Pye, MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs, Regional and Associate Chief Medical Officer at Vidant Health
This phenomenological study was designed to research the experience of engaging family/support persons (i.e., proxy) using the electronic medical record (EMR). The target population was patients with complex care needs (i.e., patients who benefit from interdisciplinary treatment), their identified family member/support person with proxy access, and their primary care provider (PCP). No known studies have examined EMR use for this purpose. This qualitative investigation was guided theoretically by the BPS-S (Engel, 1977, 1980; Wright et al., 1996) and patient-and family-engagement (Carmen et al., 2013) frameworks. Participants were selected using a purposive sampling strategy (Birks & Mills, 2015) from a primary care clinic in a southeastern state. Participants included adult patients with at least one chronic condition, a participating PC provider, and an identified proxy. Patient participants (n=12), ranged in age from 26 to 68 (M=51.6, SD=10.5), were both male (n=6) and female (n=6), and identified as White (n=5), Black (n=5), Native American (n=1), Latino/a/x (n=1). Support persons (n=7) ranged in age from 25 to 65 (M=48.1, SD=11.4), were all female, and identified as White (n=4), Black (n=2), and Native American (n=1). PCP participants (n=2) were both 41 years of age, with one male and one female, and identified as White (n=2). The phenomenological study utilized focus groups and individual interviews to explore participants’ interactions with and lived experiences of using the EMR (Creswell, 2013). Qualitative data were collected pre-, mid-, and post-proxy EMR access from all participants. Thematic analysis was completed using Colaizzi’s (1978) seven-step phenomenological analysis method. The study yielded themes covering the benefits and challenges of utilizing the EMR proxy feature to engage families/support persons. Results will help to improve the onboarding of proxies and identify the best method for optimal workflow and systemic/relational EMR usage.
- Identify outcomes of a phenomenological study on the benefits and challenges of engaging families/support persons through EMR utilization.
- Develop strategies for patient and family/support system engagement using EMR technology with secure access features.
- Promote the use of EMR proxy access in their settings to advocate for family/support person engagement.