Why users should treat EHRs like a GPS

Would the adoption of electronic health records be more widespread if users saw the systems more as decision support tools, similar to GPS systems? According to Quadramed CMO and VP Joe Bormel, writing in Healthcare Informatics, it's all a matter of expectations.

For instance, GPS systems, like EHR systems, can be frustrating at times and pose special challenges, such as when directions conflict with a user's expectations, common sense, or signage. As a result, users set their expectations accordingly and temper their results.

Bormel suggests that EHR systems are similar, in that they provide "locations" of patient information, as well as care pathways. He maintains that if EHR users would adjust their expectations and work on understanding the limitations of the technology, less frustration and more adoption might result. "[An EHR] provides decision support," he writes. "The final decision still rests with the physician." 

Marc Resnick, a professor of human factors and information design at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass., sees the analogy as true--to a degree. He notes that the differences between support provided by a GPS system and support from an EHR system should not be overlooked. For instance, while most people, including physicians, don't mind following the suggestions made by GPS, some EHR systems go beyond decision support.

"EMRs should give advice, suggestions which tests to run and why, but not correct the doctor," Resnick tells FierceEMR. "Doctors don't like being told what to do [in their practice] and won't follow it."

To learn more:
- here's Bormel's blog post