From Free-text to a structured Electronic Health Record – the preconditions for clinical decision support


This project aims to address socio technical challenges when structuring clinical information in electronic health records (EHR), to enable sharing and reusing clinical data for primarily clinical use and secondary use like national registries and research. Structuring and reusing EHR data is of importance to support the goals of the Whitepaper no. 9 “one citizen one record”.

In an overall perspective the EHR is considered as a key means for e-health collaboration in the future, in terms of enabling updated clinical information is shared amongst healthcare personnel, as well as communication between patients and healthcare personnel. Sharing and reusing clinical information addresses the need for structured data to enable that the right information is correctly reused at the right time.

To that end, an infrastructure based on structured clinical information will underline safe patient pathways were digital decision support (alerts, available information, guidelines etc.) is integrated as part of the EHR. In spite of great expectations to the impact of implementing structured EHR solutions regionally, nationally and internationally, the knowledge about how to structure the EHR for primary and secondary purposes is very limited. Previous studies on implementing new clinical ICT systems in general, illustrates that the main challenges to achieving the expected effects of the new technology relates to the need for reorganization of work processes in different organizations.

The main objective of the project is to provide systematic knowledge on how structuring clinical information must be conducted to support safe patient pathways, communication between patients and healthcare personnel as well as high quality clinical practice.


  1. Exploit how clinical information must be structured to cover both primary and secondary purposes
  2. Address how structured clinical information can support information flow in patient pathways
  3. Discuss socio-technical challenges related to structuring clinical information for primary and secondary purposes
  4. Present knowledge on how structured clinical information must be conducted to support safe patient pathways, communication between patients and healthcare personnel as well as high quality clinical practice


This project action research approach. Formative action research demands for close collaboration between researchers and the empirical field, in where researchers discussing findings and ongoing analysis of the process with involved representatives from practice. This qualitative data collection includes participatory observations, semi-structured interviews and document studies in all phases of the project to gain an overall understanding of the field

Empirically the project follows the regional implementations of clinical ICT systems (FRESK) in Helse Nord, focusing on the empirical work with structuring and implementing the new openEHR based EHR system DIPS Arena.

Project managers

Project partner


Patient pathways

Services for health professionals

Project period

2018 - 2022

More information about the project

Silsand, Line, Severinsen, Gro-Hilde, Ellingsen, Gunnar, and Christensen, Bente (2019): Structuring EPR data, a smart way to extract registry information? 7th International Conference on Infrastructures in Healthcare, DOI: 10.18420/ihc2019_00.

Severinsen, Gro-Hilde, Silsand, Line, Ellingsen, Gunnar, Pedersen, Rune. (2019). From Free-Text to Structure in Electronic Patient Records. Context Sensitive Health Informatics: Sustainability in Dynamic Ecosystems, 265, 86.

Last updated

22 April 2020