VA leaders: 'Next generation' EHRs need enhanced usability

The "next generation" of electronic health record systems need to make more than "incremental" changes and move beyond the concept of serving as computerized paper charts, according to a new study of leaders in the Department of Veterans Affairs, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

The researchers, from the VA, interviewed 14 VA operational, clinical and informatics leaders for their vision on the future needs of EHRs. The leaders recommended that a number of design and other changes were needed, including:

  • Better integration of information and space on the EHR's interface
  • Changes to support clinical workflow
  • 'Actionable' cognitive support
  • Better integration of structured data capture with a narrative style of documentation
  • Better support of interdisciplinary teamwork
  • Better interoperability
  • Enhanced usability
  • Better filtering and management of information

The leaders interviewed also suggested that EHRs should be more customized and tailored to clinicians' preferences and practices.

Other studies have also found that current EHRs have shortcomings and are in need of design and other improvements.

"Research is needed to examine the role of organizational and contextual factors in both informing plans for the next-generation EHR, as well as efforts to redesign VA's care delivery system and business processes to meet both the challenges of the present and the next generation," the researchers noted.

To learn more:
- read the study abstract