Procedures and Collaborative Information Seeking: A Study of Emergency Departments

  • Morten HertzumEmail author
  • Madhu Reddy
Part of the Computer Supported Cooperative Work book series (CSCW)


Information seeking is a central and inherently collaborative activity in the emergency department (ED), which is the common entry point to hospitals for nearly all acute patients. In this paper, we investigate how ED clinicians’ collaborative information seeking (CIS) is shaped by the procedures that they follow in the ED. Based on observations in two Danish EDs, we identify four procedures prominent to how CIS is accomplished: the triage procedure, the timeouts, the coordinating nurse, and the recurrent opportunities for information seeking at the whiteboard. We then discuss how CIS activities are impacted by these procedures and the challenges to effective CIS in these settings. We conclude with some thoughts about future studies of CIS in healthcare settings.


Collaborative information seeking Information behavior Work procedures Emergency medicine Healthcare 



The research project of which this study is part was devised, planned, and conducted by the first author and Jesper Simonsen in collaboration. We are grateful to the healthcare region, Region Zealand, and to the vendor of the electronic whiteboards, Imatis, for making this project possible and for the collaboration we have had during the project. The project has received funding from Vækstforum Sjælland and Innovasjon Norge. Jesper Simonsen and Arnvør á Torkilsheyggi made part of the observations that form the data for the analysis in this study. The second author’s participation in this paper was made possible through a grant from NSF IIS #0844947. Special thanks are due to the ED clinicians, who have been accommodating toward our observations and other empirical activities in spite of their busy schedules.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal School of Library and Information ScienceUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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