Electronic Health Records

Selection & Replacement News

AMA Urges EHR Design Overhauls, Releases Usability Framework

By Jennifer Bresnick

After a RAND report labeled EHRs as a primary source of stress for physicians, the American Medical Association (AMA) is repeating its calls for the healthcare industry to take a long, hard look at the way EHRs are designed, urging vendors to pay more attention to the usability of health IT systems to support physicians instead of frustrate them.  The AMA has released a new framework outlining the top eight priorities for creating more intuitive EHRs that encourage efficiency, including building products that are interoperable and designed to promote team-based practice and care coordination.

“Physician experiences documented by the AMA and RAND demonstrate that most electronic health record systems fail to support efficient and effective clinical work,” said AMA President-elect Steven J. Stack, MD. “This has resulted in physicians feeling increasingly demoralized by technology that interferes with their ability to provide first-rate medical care to their patients.

“Now is the time to recognize that requiring electronic health records to be all things to all people – regulators, payers, auditors and lawyers – diminishes the ability of the technology to perform the most critical function – helping physicians care for their patients,” Stack added. “Physicians believe it is a national imperative to reframe policy around the desired future capabilities of this technology and emphasize clinical care improvements as the primary focus.”

According to the AMA, the most important priorities to consider when designing an EHR product are the following:

• The EHR must enhance physicians’ ability to provide high quality care by becoming a useful tool instead of a distraction.

• The design and configuration must support team-based care and allow providers to work to the top of their skill sets.

• Software should include features that promote care coordination, including the ability to automatically track referrals and provide tools that track patients along the continuum of care.

• Health IT must be modular and easily configurable, allowing APIs to enhance and expand technical capabilities.

• EHRs should support clinical decision making by presenting pertinent information in an easily digestible format with the help of real-time data analytics.

• Interoperable data standards should be the foundation of EHR technology so that providers can share critical information across care sites and venues.

• EHRs should facilitate patient engagement and welcome mobile technologies that contribute to the patient record.

• Vendors and developers should pay close attention to end-user feedback and be nimble enough to make changes that will enhance the user experience.

“Effective use of EHRs is a key element in achieving the Triple Aim—improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction), improving the health of populations and reducing the per capita cost of health care,” the report says.  The AMA plans to continue its education efforts and its outreach to vendors, developers, and policymakers to help encourage stakeholders to meet the industry’s needs.  “Through these efforts, we hope to advance the delivery of high quality and affordable health care. The AMA stands ready to partner with others across the health sector to bring this vision to life.”





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