Appl Clin Inform 2016; 07(04): 1202-1220
DOI: 10.4338/ACI-2016-08-RA-0135
Research Article
Schattauer GmbH

Identification and Characterization of Inter-Organizational Information Flows in the Portuguese National Health Service

Eduardo Pinto
1  INESC TEC, Faculdade de Engenharia, Universidade do Porto
António Carvalho Brito
1  INESC TEC, Faculdade de Engenharia, Universidade do Porto
Ricardo João Cruz-Correia
2  CINTESIS – Center for Research in Health Technologies and Information Systems, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade do Porto
› Author Affiliations
Funding The authors would like to thank the Portuguese Ministry of Health and SPMS for the support and FCT for funding this research (SFRH/BD/90838/2012).
Further Information

Publication History

received: 03 August 2016

accepted: 05 November 2016

Publication Date:
18 December 2017 (online)


Objectives To understand and build a collective vision of all existing institutions in the Portuguese National Health Service as well as to perceive how and how far the interaction between those multiple institutions is supported by Information Systems (IS).

MethodsUpon identification of the institutions involved in the healthcare process, a set of interviews with experienced people from those institutions was conducted, which produced about five hours of tape. The research was focused exclusively on processes involving two different organizations and any internal processes were altogether excluded from it.

ResultsThe study allowed the identification of about 50 recurrent interaction processes, which were classified into four different varieties in accordance with the nature of the information flow: administrative, clinical, identificational and statistical. In addition, these processes were divided in accordance with the way how that integration is achieved, from completely automated to email or telephone-based.

ConclusionsFunds/Money related processes are technologically more rigid and standardized, whereas auditing and inspection ones are less supported by automatic systems. There emerged an interesting level of sharing and integration in clinical processes, although the integration is mostly made at the interface level. The authors identified 5 particularly relevant and dominant actors (2 classes of individuals and 3 institutions) with which there is a need for coordination and cooperation. The authors consider that, in future works, an effort should be made to provide the various institutions with guidelines/interfaces and prompt such institutions to elaborate upon these.

Citation: Pinto E, Brito AC, Cruz-Correia RJ. Identification and characterization of inter-organizational information flows in the Portuguese National Health Service.