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Clinical decision support, Necrotizing enterocolitis, NEC-Zero, Neonatal intensive care, Workflow mapping



  1. Gephart, Sheila M. PhD, RN, FWAN, FAAN
  2. Tolentino, D. Anthony PhD, MS, RN-BC
  3. Quinn, Megan C. PhD, RN
  4. Wyles, Christina MLIS, MS, RN


Decision support in neonatal ICUs is needed, especially for prevention and risk awareness of the devastating complication of necrotizing enterocolitis, a major cause of emergency surgery among fragile infants. The purpose of this study was to describe the current clinical workflow and sociotechnical processes among clinicians for necrotizing enterocolitis risk awareness, timely recognition of symptoms, and treatment to inform decision support design. A qualitative descriptive study was conducted. Focus groups were held in two neonatal ICUs (five groups in Unit A and six in Unit B). Transcripts were analyzed using content analysis and compared with field notes. Clinicians (N = 27) included nurses (37%), physicians (30%), neonatal nurse practitioners (19%), and other staff (16%). Workflow processes differed for nurses (who see necrotizing enterocolitis signs and notify providers to order diagnostic tests and treatments) and providers (who receive notification of necrotizing enterocolitis concern and then decide how to act). Clinicians desired (1) a necrotizing enterocolitis-relevant dashboard to support nutrition tracking and necrotizing enterocolitis recognition; (2) features to support decision-making (eg, necrotizing enterocolitis risk and adherence scoring); (3) breast milk tracking and feeding clinical decision support; (4) tools for necrotizing enterocolitis surveillance and quality reporting; and (5) general EHR optimizations to improve user experience.