When it comes to EHRs, design matters
I’ve been writing a lot about social media these days if you haven’t noticed.
It isn’t because I’m fascinated with the actual tools, many of them will have disappeared in the next couple of years. Rather, it is one of the most poignant examples of the incredible participation rates that great user design can induce. The possibilities of how this can transform government and key public issues have me mesmerized.
No public issue is as front and center these days as health care. Leland Berkwits, M.D. wrote into ModernHealthcare.com questioning the conclusions from a study conducted by a group of educators at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.
The study was to answer the question: “Does the medical-school curriculum adequately prepare students to diagnose and treat patients using an electronic health record?”
The conclusion Dr. Berkwits questioned?
Rachel Yudkowsky, associate professor and director of the university’s clinical performance center and part of the group that conducted the study concluded that, “What we found is that the students all looked in the medical record, but the majority of them didn’t find the information. We might need to work with the students on how you scan the record because the record is complicated.”
Dr. Berkwits in his letter brings up a compelling point which is that conventional EHRs, not the physicians or students are the problem. He noted as a practicing physician for the past 17 years and having used 5 different systems, none of them were “intuitively easy to use”.
It seems that those that conducted the study and Dr. Berkwits would agree on one issue. Whether it is the EHR or the training of the physician, the disconnect does lead to more user errors such as medication errors that could harm patients.
Aren’t these incidents EHRs are suppose to reduce?
In the interest of fewer errors and achieving the adoption rates needed around meaningful use, it behooves us to make EHRs more intuitive to use. It is much easier and predictable to mold technology around the user than to try to change human behavior.