One of the first requirements providers have when searching for an Electronic Health Record (EHR) is ease of use.

It is necessary for providers to limit the changes in their workflow that they are accustomed to while running their practice. So when a provider makes the decision to adopt an EHR system, it is expected that the technology they are urged to use will be familiar to their routine and even enhance their capabilities to better their workflow.

Read more: Usability Redefined: An all-new EHR

Many EHR vendors will portray to have a great user interface, to have user-specific customizations, and to be easily adaptable. The idea of this sounds appealing, but what evidence is there to back this up? I will explain certain things to look out for while shopping for an EHR.

When making a purchase, everyone has their own personal preference, yet one source we all seem to trust when evaluating a product is the opinion of our peers. One way to narrow down your search is to speak to the current users of the system you are evaluating. You can request their feedback regarding their experience with the EHR and their opinion on usability.

Usability can be defined through the efficiency it brings to a practice. EHR users need to have the ability to document quickly and with ease. Whether you are documenting clinical information and completing a provider note or working on the administration side of the practice, submitting charges or scheduling patients; your system should aid you in completing these tasks quickly. There should be a reduction in typing and clicking, and limit the amount of screens that the user needs to complete a task. Like they say, less is more.

Read more: EHR usability: Key to productivity

Another important factor that will enhance usability is how effective the system is in your practice. If used effectively, it will reduce errors and duplicate entry. This is important for patient safety and EHRs can benefit patients without them even knowing it. A few features that will reduce patient risk are drug to drug and drug to allergy interaction checks, clinical decision support, and CPOE – computerized physician order entry.

Usability is determined on an individual basis. It is important for users to be comfortable with the system they are using. The ability for EHRs to be customizable can greatly benefit practices. There are many customizable features that can be applied in EHRs, from the layout and colors, terminology used, custom lists for items such as most frequent complaints and ability to create a custom provider note.

The goal for EHRs is to help healthcare providers to improve the safety and quality for their patients. EHR companies aim to satisfy their users and increase the usage of their system to utilize the features that will benefit their practice. There are unique needs for administrative, financial and clinical settings. The goal for the entire practice is to increase productivity. When providers see benefit in using an EHR, they are more inclined to use it. When the EHR companies and healthcare providers share the same end goals, there is opportunity for improvement all around and to better the healthcare industry all together.



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