Undoubtedly, the adoption of EHRs by practices and healthcare providers has improved healthcare delivery. Hospitals have saved costs and enhanced the quality of care while patients now enjoy patient-centered care. However, EHR interface usability is still a significant source of concern and a common negative point among physicians and other EHR users. In many healthcare facilities, poor usability is now a significant cause of clinician burnout.
According to Patrice Harris, the American Medical Association president, the current design, implementation, and regulation of EHRs lacks the needed usability. Most EHRs are very hard to use when compared to other computer-based tools.
Unfortunately, many clinicians have to interface with cumbersome EHRs that hinder them from providing optimal care to patients. Since EHRs are here to stay, it is imperative to modify their design and create new or custom interfaces to help users better care for patients.
Fortunately, many stakeholders, developers, and EHR vendors are working hard to reduce the data entry burden placed on clinicians by EHRs. The following features will optimize the use of EHR technology and make them more user-friendly.
1. Using Voice Commands Improves Documentation
The reporting requirements for “Meaningful Use” make recording patient charts very burdensome for doctors. Physicians need to spend a large portion of their consulting hours doing documentation during each patient’s visit.
However, with the voice-enabled add-ons, clinicians will soon be able to heave a sigh of relief. These add-ons can reduce the cognitive load, minimize mouse clicks, and decrease computer screens’ repeated change when using an EHR.
With voice technology, physicians can call out their notes, and they will be converted into machine-readable symbols using text-to-speech technology. This will result in more patient-centered care. The speech recognition technology will also be available to capture patient responses so they can be transcribed instantly.
2. Visual Aids Prevent Alert Fatigue
The typical way to inform a computer user about an error is through a dialog box. This is okay when the user makes infrequent or non-consequential errors. In most cases, users dismiss these alert boxes or click on “Cancel” without reading the error message.
However, due to the excessive cognitive workload on physicians, using multiple alert boxes increases burnout. Some physicians are also in the habit of dismissing these alert boxes like typical operating system error alerts. Such action has led to serious errors, fatigue, and burnout.
To reduce alert fatigue, it is more beneficial to put a highlight around the erroneous order. A study published in the JAMA Network Journal showed that this method minimized duplicate and incorrect physician orders. Implementing this visual aid reduced duplicate orders for lab tests and radiology tests by 40 and 49 percent.
3. Using EHR Prompts to Improve Teamwork
Medical teams comprising nurses, doctors, and medical assistants can provide team-based care as an alternative to individual practice. This significantly reduces clinician burnout. In the same way, teamwork can be extended to the use of an EHR.
An EHR interface may be modified to ask medical assistants to order a test after speaking to a patient. However, such tests will need to be checked and ratified by a qualified physician. Customizing EHRs for teamwork will relieve the physician by allowing other medical professionals to participate in various care aspects that they can handle legally and professionally.
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