AMA framework looks to improve EHR usability

The American Medical Association (AMA), concerned about current electronic health record design, has released a new framework outlining eight priorities to improve the usability of the systems.

"Today the design and implementation of EHRs do not align with the cognitive and workflow requirements of physicians within and across specialties and practice settings," Steven Stack, AMA president-elect and chair of AMA's Advisory Committee on Physician EHR Usability, said, speaking on a Sept. 16 webinar announcing the new framework.

The eight priorities are:

  • Enhance physicians' ability to provide high-quality patient care
  • Support team-based care
  • Promote care coordination
  • Offer product modularity and configurability
  • Reduce cognitive workload
  • Promote data liquidity
  • Facilitate digital and mobile patient engagement
  • Expedite user input into product design and post-implementation feedback

AMA also outlined an action plan, including engaging vendors to incorporate needed changes and assisting physicians by developing educational tools.

Stack pointed out that the Meaningful Use program and its associated regulatory structure was a "wonderful impetus" for adopting EHRs, but said that the ongoing evolution and certification process is overly prescriptive and rigid.

Mayo Clinic CIO Christopher Ross, a member of the Health IT Standards Committee who also spoke on the webinar, added that the certification program for Meaningful use could be "much more efficient" and that vendors have been spending much of their research and development dollars on those requirements rather than on improving patient care.

AMA's actions are fueled in part by a RAND Corporation report which it sponsored, that found that EHR usability was a "unique and vexing" challenge to physician satisfaction, as well as other evidence that current EHR design cost physicians time that could be spent elsewhere.

To learn more:
- download the framework
- read the announcement

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