AHRQ issues guidance to reduce EHR consequences

Hospitals, physicians, regional extension centers and others can avail themselves with a new online resource to help them deal with problems encountered while using electronic health record systems.       

Developed by the RAND Corporation for HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the resource is a guide unveiled on AHRQ's website this week that helps providers anticipate, avoid and correct various issues. It also pinpoints the causes of unintended consequences, gathers evidence related to problems, determines the cause and effect of errors, and helps to provide remedies.

Some of the unintended consequences referred to include increased workloads for clinicians, unfavorable workflow changes, conflicts between electronic and paper systems, and overdependence on technology. The guide recommends ways to improve EHR safety, such as: 

  • Reviewing skipped or rejected alerts;
  • Continually monitoring and reporting errors and near misses or close calls caused by technology;
  • Requiring department/pharmacy review and sign off on orders created outside of the usual parameters.

The tool was developed at several sites, including Mount Sinai Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and currently is being tested in several locations.

AHRQ acknowledges that the research relied on to create the guide is still in its infancy and that the guide is a "work in progress."

This is not the first time that AHRQ has recognized the problems inherent with EHR systems. At least one of its cases and commentaries deals with EMR entry orders, and AHRQ has addressed issues with electronic prescribing.

To learn more:
- here's AHRQ's guide
- read this CMIO article