Healthcare News & Insights

EHR upgrades increase risk of prescription errors, study says

For all the benefits the newest electronic health record systems can offer, new research says upgrading systems can also lead to increases in some types of mistakes. 

That’s the word from a study presented at the recent Digital Health Conference that looked at how various quality measures changed when doctors started using new EHR systems.

According to the research, doctors who began using EHRs for the first time saw as much as an 85% decrease in prescribing errors.

However, docs who switched from one system to another experienced a sharp increase in those errors between three months and one year after the switch.

The good news: Error rates dropped again in the second year of using the new system.

Facilities may want to consider offering doctors and other staff more training before new systems go live, so there’s less of an adjustment period that can contribute to errors.

Whether using a third-party trainer or in-house staff, here are some tips that can improve EHR training and help minimize the risk of mistakes when a new system is up and running:

  1. Don’t stick to an arbitrary end date — It’s fine to estimate when training will be over, but be flexible. Everyone has a different level of computer skills and EHR experience, so doctors and other staff members in your organization may take more or less time than you anticipate to get up to speed.
  2. Offer a pre-training test — Some doctors and employees may mistakenly believe they don’t need training before using an EHR system. Having some kind of test beforehand can let them know how much they still need to learn. Also, testing will show trainers what the trainees already know and where they need the most work.
  3. Train at the right times — EHR training should be presented as a benefit for doctors and employees, not an obligation. That’s one reason it’s important to work with trainees beforehand to figure when the training will be most convenient and keep disruption of regular work to a minimum.
  4. Make sure outside trainers know where to focus — If using outside trainers, make sure they know what system features to focus on and which won’t be used. Otherwise, they may spend too much time on unimportant topics, which will waste valuable minutes and make it harder for trainees to remember the important stuff.

For more help with EHR training, read our earlier post on the topic here.

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