Healthcare News & Insights

Will future EHRs be even harder to use?

Electronic health records (EHRs) aren’t going out of style any time soon — but new research suggests that user-friendly systems still could be years away. 

509232593Many providers have complained that EHRs can hurt productivity, create unnecessary security risks and have issues performing tasks like interoperability with other providers’ systems.

Yet payors, federal agencies and patients continue to push for wider EHR adoption.

Patients weighing pros and cons

The Office of the National Coordinator recently released the results of a study on patients’ concerns about EHR privacy and security risks given the increased EHR-adoption, iHealthbeat reports.

Researchers found 69% of respondents said they were worried about EHR privacy risks and 74% said they had concerns about EHR security.

Despite those worries, however, about 75% said they still wanted their healthcare providers to utilize EHRs. About as many also said they wanted providers to share their records electronically to improve quality of care.

Interestingly, 75% of respondents whose providers used paper records also were worried about privacy risks, and 83% had concerns about paper records security.

Usability woes

Although patients may want providers to be EHR-proficient, new research from Frost & Sullivan, a market research and business consulting company, suggests that providers are already struggling with EHR usability, reports HealthcareITNews. And researchers believe usability could be even worse in future EHRs.

Frost & Sullivan surveyed 600 Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) from hospitals around the country about their biggest EHR problems.

Researchers found that some of the respondents’ most common issues included:

  • slow and/or inaccurate information retrieval decreasing productivity and increasing the risk to patients’ safety
  • the inability to streamline use with with targeted searches and queries, and
  • the amount of time-consuming data entry.

Overall, the main issue CIOs and CTOs reported dealt with inefficient information retrieval, with many providers struggling to get the necessary data at the moment they need it most.

What’s even worse, said Nancy Fabozzi, the study’s head researcher, is that as EHR data expands, information retrieval will becomes an even bigger problem.

Also concerning, Fabozzi believes that these issues may not be solved just by training providers more (though it certainly can’t hurt).

That means it’s more important than ever for hospital leaders to give considerable thought about how well a system will blend with their facilities’ operations before purchasing or switching EHRs. You’ll want to consider factors like the capability of your IT staff to  handle EHR issues on top of other technical issues. It’s also important to think about how tech savvy your providers are because it might warrant sacrificing some EHR features for the sake of having an easier to use system that won’t hurt productivity as severely.


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