EMR update? Assess for problems
Check for unintended effects
An update of one electronic medical record (EMR) included a new checkbox to indicate whether there was an abnormal finding for a certain test.
"The problem was, if you went back and looked at patient visit records from before the EMR was updated, the EMR shows there was not an abnormal finding. In fact, the information was never entered during that previous visit," says Ron Sterling, author of Keys to EMR/EHR Success (Greenbranch Publishing; Phoenix, MD) and president of Sterling Solutions, a Silver, Spring, MD-based consulting firm advising physicians on EMR implementation.
The field was visible in those patient visit records, however. "So it looked like there was not a problem with the patient, when there easily could have been," says Sterling. In this case, the vendor could have displayed a New Field message or even hidden the screen field for old records, he adds.
When EMR systems are updated, this update could have unintended effects on the medical record. To avoid problems, Sterling says to review changes to your EMR before you install the new version, to verify the effect of the new version on your use of the EMR or even your historic data.
"If you have a problem, you need to pursue the issue with your vendor and develop a mitigation strategy," he says.