Healthcare News & Insights

3 steps to make your EHR more user-friendly

Making electronic health records (EHR) systems more user-friendly for physicians has been a significant challenge for many facilities. But it’s an issue that your hospital needs to address directly. 

87463237 (1)Providers who aren’t comfortable with entering information in an EHR are more likely to make mistakes that can affect patient care. And an EHR that’s too difficult to work with can decrease efficiency in your hospital.

With the news that the feds are significantly changing the meaningful use program, basing incentives more on how well technology improves patient care, hospitals will have to take a hard look at their current systems to see if they’ll meet the new requirements.

In the meantime, though, there are a few steps facilities can take right now with IT to improve the usability of their EHRs, making life easier for the doctors and nurses who use them.

Updates & changes

Dr. Suneel Dhand, author and director of HealthITImprove, an organization dedicated to making IT better in health care, wrote a blog post with three things hospitals and tech vendors can do right now to change the design of their EHRs:

  1. Perform a click analysis. Facilities can audit how many clicks and screens it takes to finish various tasks. Start with the ones doctors and nurses perform most often, such as ordering medications or writing progress notes. Doctors need to be active participants in this process. By finding out exactly how long it takes to get this information in your EHR, you can then work with IT and your vendor to remove unnecessary steps.
  2. Create logical screen interfaces. In many programs, the most commonly chosen option will eventually pop up at the top of your screen. This isn’t the case for EHRs. Often, the common choices appear at the end of an excessively long list. Ask your vendor if it can streamline these lists, making the areas your providers use most more prominent.
  3. Make the final output easier to understand. There’s nothing like carefully entering a patient’s information in an EHR, but having the final result read like computer jargon. Printouts present data in a format that’s hard to understand, without any context. To solve this problem, see if the vendor offers a more print-friendly interface, or can better categorize patient health data within the system so it’s easier to interpret.

Making these changes, along with other proposed mandates to improve interoperability and create more user-friendly systems, can go a long way in making your EHR less a burden and more an essential tool to improve patient care.

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