What maximizes the effectiveness and implementation of technology-based interventions to support healthcare professional practice? A systematic literature review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Technological support may be crucial in optimizing healthcare professional practice and improving patient outcomes. A focus on electronic health records has left other technological supports relatively neglected. Additionally, there has been no comparison between different types of technology-based interventions, and the importance of delivery setting on the implementation of technology-based interventions to change professional practice. Consequently, there is a need to synthesise and examine intervention characteristics using a methodology suited to identifying important features of effective interventions, and the barriers and facilitators to implementation. Three aims were addressed: to identify interventions with a technological component that are successful at changing professional practice, to determine if and how such interventions are theory-based, and to examine barriers and facilitators to successful implementation. Methods: A literature review informed by realist review methods was conducted involving a systematic search of studies reporting either: (1) behavior change interventions that included technology to support professional practice change; or (2) barriers and facilitators to implementation of technological interventions. Extracted data was quantitative and qualitative, and included setting, target professionals, and use of Behaviour Change Techniques (BCTs). The primary outcome was a change in professional practice. A thematic analysis was conducted on studies reporting barriers and facilitators of implementation. Results: Sixty-nine studies met the inclusion criteria; 48 (27 randomized controlled trials) reported behavior change interventions and 21 reported practicalities of implementation. The most successful technological intervention was decision support providing healthcare professionals with knowledge and/or person-specific information to assist with patient management. Successful technologies were more likely to operationalise BCTs, particularly "instruction on how to perform the behavior". Facilitators of implementation included aligning studies with organisational initiatives, ensuring senior peer endorsement, and integration into clinical workload. Barriers included organisational challenges, and design, content and technical issues of technology-based interventions. Conclusions: Technological interventions must focus on providing decision support for clinical practice using recognized behavior change techniques. Interventions must consider organizational context, clinical workload, and have clearly defined benefits for improving practice and patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number93
Pages (from-to)93
JournalBMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making
Issue number1
Early online date7 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2018


  • Healthcare professional behaviour change
  • Technology
  • realist review
  • intervention
  • technological support


Dive into the research topics of 'What maximizes the effectiveness and implementation of technology-based interventions to support healthcare professional practice? A systematic literature review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this