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AMA study: Most EHRs lack 'usability'

September 22, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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Healthcare providers may not like to deal with paper records, but neither do they want to spend a lot of time making data entries into electronic health records.

In response to those findings reported in a joint study done by the American Medical Association and the RAND Corp., the AMA is calling for a design overhaul of most electronic health records (EHRs) to increase their usability.

As a way to improve EHRs, the AMA consulted with physicians and experts in healthcare IT to develop a new framework with eight priorities:

• Enhance physicians' ability to provide high-quality patient care 

• Support team-based care 

• Promote care coordination 

• Offer product modularity and configurability 

• Reduce cognitive workload

• Promote data liquidity 

• Facilitate digital and mobile patient engagement 

• Expedite user input into product design and post-implementation feedback

"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, M.D., in a press release. "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," he 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."