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Assessment of preferences for classification detail in medical information: is uniformity better?

Publication Date
  • 080704 Information Retrieval And Web Search
  • Health
  • Classification
  • Retrieval
  • Coding
  • Evidence
  • Based
  • Medical
  • Medicine


The growing acceptance of evidence-based decision making in healthcare organizations has resulted in recognition of information classification and retrieval as a key area of both strategic and operational management. In the emerging information-intensive healthcare environment, healthcare managers are beginning to understand the increased need for formal, continuous information classification and coding in health services, creating a need for enhanced information retrieval, delivery of services and quality management. Variation in classification preferences across practice settings poses healthcare quality management problems for evidence-based medicine in such an environment. This paper reports results from a major national study into the perceived variation reported by health information managers related to the relevance-efficiency trade-offs of information classification across regions and practice settings. This study provides: (1) a benchmark of the degree of such variation, examining how classification preferences vary across organization types, regions, and management indicators, and (2) the extent to which managers prefer more descriptive classification systems, despite nationwide mandates to adopt greater non-descriptive categorization of information. Findings suggest that due to major regional variation, stringent national information standards may be counterproductive for some healthcare practice settings and geographic locations. Implications for healthcare information classification and retrieval are further examined and discussed.

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