Varied usability continues to plague EHRs

doctor on computer

The different functionalities of an electronic health record system vary greatly in their usability, according to a new report from AmericanEHR Partners, founded by the American College of Physicians (ACP).

The survey of nearly 1,400 physicians, conducted from May 30, 2014, through July 18, 2014, found significant differences in usability. For instance, 73.2 percent of respondents reported that it was easy or very easy to record smoking status, 69.5 percent said it was easy or very easy to refill a prescription and 68.7 percent found it easy or very easy to electronically prescribe a medication.

However, 51 percent found it difficult or very difficult to import patient medication lists; 49 percent reported that it was difficult or very difficult to reconcile imported medication lists. 

Primary care physicians (PCPs) reported a greater percentage of tasks than specialists to be easy or very easy. PCPs also reported an increase in ease of use over time, indicating a growing comfort level with their systems as they become accustomed to using them.

Perhaps not surprisingly, overall satisfaction with EHRs was “strongly tied” to the ease of use of the system. Almost nine in 10 respondents (89 percent) of those who said that they were satisfied or very satisfied also reported that their EHR was easy or very easy to use. For those who said that they were dissatisfied with their system, 90 percent also reported that their EHR was hard or very hard to use.    

"This type of data is very useful in showing that there are many different factors that need to be considered when examining EHR usability," said Shari Erickson, ACP's vice president of governmental affairs and medical practice. "We need to focus on figuring out how these data can best be translated into developing or modifying EHR systems to make them truly helpful to physicians and practices."

To learn more:
- get the report