Study Finds EHR Needs to be Improved for Usability and Patient Safety

Electronic health records (EHRs) are real-time, patient-centered records that include a patient’s medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and laboratory and test results. These records are shared with other healthcare providers and organizations to help physicians make better decisions and provide better care. Partnering with an EHR-integrated medical transcription company can help improve the efficiency of the EHR-system. A recent study conducted by researchers with MedStar Health’s National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, the American Medical Association (AMA) as well as other organizations and published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA), provides compelling evidence that the design, development and implementation of EHRs need to be improved to make them easier to be used by clinicians and enhance patient safety. For the study, researchers focused on the two largest EHR vendors, Epic and Cerner, and reviewed EHR use at two sites per vendor or four hospital sites. Twelve to 15 emergency physicians at each location were asked to perform common EHR tasks such as placing orders for medical imaging, lab tests and medications for hypothetical patient cases. Researchers collected data relating to the length of time, number of clicks to complete each task and the degree of accuracy. The findings showed wide variation across the four sites. For instance, it only took physicians at one site 25 seconds to place an imaging order, at the same time it took more than a minute at another site. Physicians required an average of eight clicks to place an imaging order at one site, while the same task at a different site averaged 31 clicks. For a medication order, one site recorded no errors, while another had a 30 percent error rate.


How to improve the efficiency of EHR? According to an article published in the American Medical Association’s AMA Wire, a peer-based education program can improve the efficiency of electronic health record (EHR) use. Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect Essentials (KP HCE), an educational program has been designed to maximize the effectiveness of physician’s use of EHRs. Its built-in treatment guidelines are helping the organization improve the management of common/chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. It also enhances patient care by increasing the accessibility of the patient medical record. Kaiser Permanente electronic health record is available when and where it is required. By integrating electronic health information into Kaiser Permanente’s services, doctors can provide care for their patients in ways never experienced before. As KP HealthConnect includes more comprehensive patient information, it can help caregivers address multiple problems or the provision of multiple services in a single visit, which reduces the need for additional follow-up appointments. It helps the organization create a seamless experience for its members as their health information moves quickly and securely between doctors’ offices, hospitals, outpatient centers and pharmacies, thereby allowing scenarios in which emergency room staff could immediately access information about a patient’s blood type, allergies and medications. As Kaiser Permanente utilizes KP HealthConnect, the organization is taking extra precautions to ensure that patient safety is ensured, and patient care is not interrupted. Kaiser Permanente helps reduce some work schedules during deployments to help its doctors and nurses adjust to exam room and bedside computing.

In fact, more than 4,000 physicians have completed KP HCE in three years and more than 96 percent recommend the voluntary training to their peers. The result was that, almost all physicians reported that the training had equipped them with critical skills which can be used in their daily operations and felt that it was a productive use of their time. Attendees also reported that they enjoyed learning from their peers, and trainers understood the workflows and demands of their colleagues, improving learning opportunities. Similarly, partnering with a transcription company providing EHR integrated medical transcription services can help physicians save valuable time and focus on providing quality patient care.