In the health care industry, a lot of decisions can be life-or-death, and the ability to make those choices quickly and with as much information as possible usually lies within a patient's electronic health records.
To that end, many health care providers are now trying to do a better job of getting a handle on managing those files efficiently and making sure everything within them is accurate as needed, according to three doctors writing for the Journal of the American Medical Association. While doctors agree there have been myriad benefits stemming from such adoption efforts, usability – and a resulting efficiency issues – continue to be a problem.
"Poor EHR usability contributes to errors that are associated with patient harm," the doctors wrote. "It also results in clinicians spending extra time using the EHR, contributing to clinician frustration, which, in turn, has been reported to jeopardize patient safety."
What can be done?
While the industry behind creating and managing health records can certainly be improved – with standardized requirements and ways to measure effectiveness of record-keeping, for instance – everyone involved has their own roles to play, from patients and doctors to health care providers and even lawmakers, the report said.
Providers in particular may need to do a better job of training and retraining employees, including doctors, to ensure all necessary information is being entered accurately and effectively.
The current situation
Right now, nearly all doctors use EHRs every day, but the majority of those who do say they've been stressed out by the issue, according to Healthline. That, in turn, can lead to burnout and potentially perilous situations for care providers and patients alike. Many physicians say they have to spend too much time filling out EHRs and reviewing data within them, but that training better training and better optimization of the information would likely help ease these concerns.
Dr. Ken Robinson of Southern California Permanente Medical Group told the site it's broadly understood that EHRs are a huge positive for the industry, but more can be done to get everyone on the same page and move in the right direction.
When organizations can look at all their document management options and find a system that works based on their unique needs, and diligently train staffers to use it optimally.