AMIA: 10 ways to improve EHR safety, usability

In response to questions about efficacy and safety of electronic health records, the American Medical Informatics Association published a position paper in its journal outlining 10 ways to reduce errors, imcrease patient safety and improve efficiency.

"These AMIA recommendations are intended to stimulate informed debate, provide a plan to increase understanding of the impact of usability on the effective use of health IT and lead to safer and higher quality care with the adoption of useful and usable EHR systems," according to the paper.

AMIA's "Task Force on Usability," which included EHR vendors and professionals from academic settings, reviewed the vendor-to-user EHR process before making their recommendations. Some users lament that EHRs are designed for clinical transactions rather than clinical care, require extensive training for proper use, and take too much time to use--especially when poorly designed. 

The article cited an Institute of Medicine report that defines the importance of usability--"the effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which the intended users can achieve their tasks in the intended context of product use."

The guiding principles include: 

  • Having a usability and human factors research agenda in health IT, including developing core measures and best practices
  • Creating federal policy recommendations, such as standardization and adverse event reporting policies
  • Soliciting industry recommendations from vendors, such as formal usability assessments
  • Implementing clinical end-user recommendations, including best practices and monitoring, during EHR implementation 

"These AMIA recommendations on patient safety and the usability of EHR aim to stimulate ongoing and informed discussions and bring about increased understanding of the impact of usability on the safe and effective use of EHR systems," the authors said.

Electronic health record adoption can be a "psychological roller coaster" for small physician practices, FierceEMR reported earlier this month. Health practices of all sizes have trouble adopting EHRs, despite national guidelines from organizations such as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

To learn more:
- read the AMIA position paper

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