This article reports on our pilot evaluation of an electronic patient information system for children with amblyopia and their parents. The aim was to investigate whether the information system would be able to improve the quality of care, as indicated by an improvement in the effectiveness and efficiency of care, and in an increase in patient satisfaction. In the pilot evaluation, we used qualitative research methods, exploring the impact of the information system on children and their parents, with the aim to find suitable indicators for a potential further, quantitative study. Yet we found that the system was little used and had marginal effects on the quality of care for children with amblyopia and their parents. It appeared that the main problem underlying this patient information system was that the needs of those people who actually would be using the system had never really been investigated. The designers had built their assumptions about these needs into the system. These appeared to be mistaken at so many levels that the system could not become a success. As a result of this pilot evaluation, the patient information project was thoroughly transformed. This study makes clear that a thorough exploration of user needs before building the system, using qualitative research methods, may be crucial because it can prevent mismatches and maximizes the chance that the eventual information system meets its most important aim: to enhance patient empowerment and improve the quality of care. Copyright

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International Journal of Medical Informatics
Department of Neuroscience

Van't Riet, A, Berg, M, Hiddema, U.F, & Sol, J.C.A. (2001). Meeting patients' needs with patient information systems: Potential benefits of qualitative research methods. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 64(1), 1–14. doi:10.1016/S1386-5056(01)00185-X