The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a new guide that addresses a common concern with electronic health records: If they’re not user- friendly, the potential benefits might never be recognized, and they could even threaten patient safety.
The guide states that safety improves when an electronic health record is made more usable. NIST researchers used five methods of data collection. They found three significant problems stemming from electronic health record use that led to suboptimal and unsafe patient care.
These were the problems they identified:
- problems with identification, consistency, and integrity of the information, such as inability to retrieve information from the record;
- lost data;
- information in multiple locations.
The researchers also identified other common problems with electronic health record use, including unintended actions, the likelihood of use errors, and a “high level” of user frustration.
NIST defines usability as “the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.” Usability represents an important, yet often overlooked, factor impacting the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records, the report says.
The NIST report is available online at http://tinyurl.com/px5crzz.