Systematic review of electronic health records to manage chronic conditions among displaced populations

Anna Buford, Henry Charles Ashworth, Farrah Lynn Ezzeddine, Sara Dada, Eliza Nguyen, Senan Ebrahim, Amy Zhang, Jordan Lebovic, Lena Hamvas, Larry J. Prokop, Sally Midani, Michael Chilazi, Fares Alahdab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives The objective of this study was to assess the impact of electronic health records (EHRs) on health outcomes and care of displaced people with chronic health conditions and determine barriers and facilitators to EHR implementation in displaced populations. Design A systematic review protocol was developed according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Systematic Reviews. Data sources MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Health Technology Assessment, Epub Ahead of Print, In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews was searched from inception to 12 April 2021. Eligibility criteria for selected studies Inclusion criteria were original research articles, case reports and descriptions of EHR implementation in populations of displaced people, refugees or asylum seekers with related chronic diseases. Grey literature, reviews and research articles unrelated to chronic diseases or the care of refugees or asylum populations were excluded. Studies were assessed for risk of bias using a modified Cochrane, Newcastle-Ottawa and Joanna Briggs Institute tools. Data extraction and synthesis Two reviewers independently extracted data from each study using Covidence. Due to heterogeneity across study design and specific outcomes, a meta-analysis was not possible. An inductive thematic analysis was conducted using NVivo V.12 (QSR International, Melbourne, Australia). An inductive analysis was used in order to uncover patterns and themes in the experiences, general outcomes and perceptions of EHR implementation. Results A total of 32 studies across nine countries were included: 14 in refugee camps/settlements and 18 in asylum countries. Our analysis suggested that EHRs improve health outcomes for chronic diseases by increasing provider adherence to guidelines or treatment algorithms, monitoring of disease indicators, patient counselling and patient adherence. In asylum countries, EHRs resource allocation to direct clinical care and public health services, as well as screening efforts. EHR implementation was facilitated by their adaptability and ability to integrate into management systems. However, barriers to EHR development, deployment and data analysis were identified in refugee settings. Conclusion Our results suggest that well-designed and integrated EHRs can be a powerful tool to improve healthcare systems and chronic disease outcomes in refugee settings. However, attention should be paid to the common barriers and facilitating actions that we have identified such as utilising a user-centred design. By implementing adaptable EHR solutions, health systems can be strengthened, providers better supported and the health of refugees improved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e056987
JournalBMJ open
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 6 2022


  • health informatics
  • international health services
  • quality in health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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