EHRs have come under fire for contributing to physician burnout due to a lack of usability. But there are real ways to increase the usability of your EHR to immediately boost your system's efficiency; most practices are simply unaware of the steps they can take. We’ve compiled tips and resources for increasing the usability of any EHR system, so that you can get started right away.
State of Affairs
According to a study in a joint effort between Yale, Stanford, Mayo and the American Medical Association, electronic health records receive an F for usability. The survey included a cross-specialty sample of over 5000 physicians, where EHRs were graded using a standardized metric of technology usability and compared to other technologies simultaneously. The study concluded that general usability of EHR systems is far below many everyday technologies, such as Amazon.com and Google Search. Specialties that performed particularly poorly included orthopaedic surgery, dermatology and general surgery. The study shows that EHRs must focus on long-term improvements to the user experience, and many are doing so. However, most orthopaedic practices can't afford to wait. Certified EHR technology must be used today to comply with government mandates, so it’s imperative to optimize your current system with the following tips:
Tips to Increase Usability With Your Vendor
Customization is often dismissed as a process that simply takes too long, but default workflows are often a major hurdle to improved usability. EHRs built exclusively for orthopaedics cut down on extraneous workflows that aren't specialty-specific. Additionally, vendors who offer more extensive customization options can tailor workflows to match how an individual physician moves through the clinic extremely closely. Most practices don’t realize how many built-in capabilities of an EHR allow for shortcuts, adding up to a significant time savings.
Your vendor should offer educational resources to continuously improve product usability over time. Regular user group conferences are one way to gather valuable information related to system efficiencies. These opportunities also allow for collaboration with other practices, who can share their solutions to usability challenges. Attend any webinars your vendor offers, as these sessions can provide details on features and updates as they're rolled out, and how to access and use them appropriately.
In terms of integrations, natural language processing, artificial intelligence and voice recognition are all viable ways to curb physician burden by significantly cutting down on documentation time. Investing in EHR education as early as possible has also been shown to reduce overall burden for physicians. Finally, contact your vendor’s support line to inquire directly about customization and optimization solutions as soon as workflow snags arise. Your vendor should be able to provide you with options immediately.
Tips to Increase Usability In House
The ONC has published a Change Package for Improving EHR Usability in interactive PDF format, available to the public online. This comprehensive booklet can be used by anyone from novice users to IT professionals. It includes usability assessments for EHR systems, and descriptions of the important roles that training and customization play. You can use it to identify problems in your EHR and even implement solutions. The booklet contains links to tools for every stage of EHR usability improvement and when they’re best used. Access the booklet for free here to take control of the improvement process today.
Perhaps you’re ready for a change instead of engaging in improvement actions with your current system? Feel free to take a look at our exclusively orthopaedic system here.