AMA calls for EMR standardization to ease physician use

American Medical Association (AMA) delegates, at their annual meeting this week in Chicago, approved a Board of Trustees report calling for future standardization of various user interfaces for electronic medical record (EMR) systems.

"Standardized EMR interface designs will help physicians working at multiple facilities with different EMR systems better navigate and use EMRs to help their patients," said AMA board member Steven Stack, MD, Reuters reported.

In the trustees' report released last month, it cited studies documenting physicians' difficulty in locating critical patient information on the screen and in patient records due to poor user interface designs. This included problems such as "inconsistent or confusing warnings (e.g., notifications of abnormal test results), presentation of data elements without context, separation of actions from results, and confusing navigation paths," according to the report.

The AMA said it will urge healthcare facilities designing, selecting, or implementing clinical information systems for physician use to receive input from physicians "who can act as internal advocates." It also called for organizations to select technologies for "data entry and retrieval that are easily and rapidly mastered and are acceptable to the physician users."

The report did note that "given the immaturity of the market" and the the diverse variety of clinical settings, it would be premature at this time to suggest a single user interface design for EMRs. However, key elements of user interface designs exist that should be "encouraged in parallel with its ongoing development" EMR technology, it said.

For more information:
- view the Board of Trustees report (.pdf)
- see the Reuters article
- view the Health Data Management article