AHRQ releases online EHR troubleshooting guide

Concerned that your hospital or health care organization may run into issues when implementing and operating an electronic health record system? The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) now is offering a free online guide to help providers with the unintended consequences of EHRs.

The tool--called the "Unintended Consequences Guide"--is designed to give providers practical advice and tips for dealing with the unanticipated problems sometimes associated with EHR systems, noting that "unintended consequences can undermine provider acceptance, increase costs, sometimes lead to failed implementation, and even result in harm to patients." Examples of unintended consequences noted in the guide include:

  • Increased work for clinicians, such as more documentation;
  • Unfavorable workflow changes;
  • The need for more resources to implement and maintain an EHR system;
  • Conflicts between electronic and paper medical records;
  • Changes in communication practices;
  • User frustration;
  • New errors, such as inputting into the wrong field;
  • Unexpected changes in the institution's power structure;
  • Overdependence on technology.

The tool provides step-by-step guidance to help future and current users avoid these unintended consequences, to understand and identify them, and to remediate as needed. It also provides an appendix of helpful case examples, such as how to reduce medication errors and responding to alert fatigue. 

The guide was created by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the RAND Corporation, Kaiser Permanente Colorado, and the AHIMA Foundation at the request of AHRQ.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- here's the guide