New developments in Electronic Health Record (EHR) software have changed the game for hospitals in ensuring that information is accessible and easily shared between physicians. While the platforms themselves have seen a lot of progress over the past few years, implementation still poses challenges for health systems and physicians.
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association has indicated that the usability of EHR systems post implementation has been difficult for healthcare professionals trying to adapt to the new technology. The authors of the study, Dr. Aaron Z. Hettinger and Raj M. Ratwani along with Yale School of Medicine's Dr. Edward R. Melnick, explained that factors such as configuration, customization, and training can impact the success of implementing new EHR software.
Many physicians face difficulties in utilizing EHR software because the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s basic certification requirements are based on development by the vendor. This can mean that a physician's experience is drastically different from that intended by the developers.
An academic Medical Center in the Midwest also conducted qualitative interviews with nine physicians on the benefits and challenges brought on by continuous optimization in EHRs.
The interviewees explained that while the technology runs at a faster speed and allows for quickened results, they found that revolving updates make it difficult for physicians to implement software features into their workflows while guarding patient safety. Patient data may be within the system, however, layout and organization shifts may result in a lack of alerts on patient details such as allergies while prescribing medications.
One of the anonymous physicians explained that a visit and training from the vendor or a warning about updates would be helpful.
Physicians also expressed the desire for a physician-based usage training in order to provide feedback to developers. Founder and Chief Experience Officer at the design agency Mad*Pow, Amy Heymans, said, “The process for customizing EHRs across an organization has to include all stakeholders, and not be designed according to the preferences of a limited set of clinicians.”
Feedback from physicians has stressed the need for continuous communication between all stakeholders along with specialized training. Healthcare software developers must respond to physician feedback in order to prioritize patient safety and productivity and allow health systems to reap the full benefits of innovative software solutions.