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EHR Usability: Why It Matters for Providers and Patients

ehr usability

Electronic health record (EHR) systems have become increasingly prevalent in modern medical practice. However, despite its rapid evolution from a mere electronic data storage system to an advanced, comprehensive platform, poor EHR usability remains a significant drawback that keeps providers from fully embracing EHR technology.

Poor system design and usability in healthcare can compromise patient safety and disrupt provider workflows. Studies suggest that the three leading factors affecting EHR usability, such as low-value alerts, documentation burdens, and a cluttered interface, lead to physician burnout.

Despite the positive and negative effects of EHRs in healthcare, research shows that higher physician EHR usability translates to better patient care and lower negative outcomes.

In this blog we will define what EHR usability is and explain why it’s vital for you and your patients.

What is EHR usability?

EHR usability refers to how easy the system is for clinicians and nurses to use and how satisfied they are with its performance. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) defines EHR usability based on three aspects:

  • Performance effectiveness, or the ability to accomplish a task
  • Achieving the desired result with the least amount of effort, expense, and time
  • Satisfaction among users

Basically, a system with good EHR usability is easy to use and gets the job done. It’s intuitive and empowers you to complete tasks quickly and efficiently without much mental effort.

Are there any factors that contribute to EHR usability?

In its report, HIMSS emphasized usability as an outcome of technology navigation, EHR screen design, and user interface. You can apply these nine principles of software usability in evaluating EMR systems:

  • Simplicity: The important information is easy to notice, and the functions are easy to understand.
  • Naturalness: The application feels intuitive and easy to learn. You will feel safe while using it.
  • Consistency: All application parts have the same look and feel, with elements placed consistently on the screen.
  • Forgiveness and Feedback: If you make a mistake, the application helps you avoid it or allows you to recover gracefully from errors.
  • Effective Use of Language: The language used across the system sounds natural and easy to comprehend.
  • Efficient Interactions: The application offers shortcuts and navigation options for frequent or experienced users.
  • Effective Information Presentation: Colors can convey meaning, such as using red to indicate a medical emergency.
  • Preservation of Context: The user interface has minimal changes and interruptions on the screen while you’re doing a specific task.
  • Minimize Cognitive Load: The system automatically performs calculations for you, so you don’t have to do them manually.

3 Major Benefits of EHR Usability

An advanced, modern EHR system enables you to deliver quality patient care and ensures smooth daily operations. Investing in EHR systems with intuitive interface design can go a long way if you wish to improve patient outcomes and streamline your workflows.

Let’s explore the three major benefits of EHR usability:

1. Higher EHR Adoption Rates

EHRs with high usability scores are easy to use and intuitive to manage, and their adoption usually goes smoothly, so more clinicians are likely to use them.

2. Avoid Errors 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives approximately 100,000 reports about medication errors yearly. With an intuitive EHR, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of preventable mistakes like medication errors. 

3. Reduced Costs 

Sophisticated EHR systems with a user-friendly interface eliminate manual processes, reducing overhead costs and other staffing-related expenses.

How EHR Usability Improves Provider Workflow & Prevents Burnout

As a tool you interact with daily, it only makes sense to put a heavy premium on EHR usability. Choose a clunky system, and you could open the floodgates of inefficiencies, exposing your team to greater risks of burnout. Using an EHR with an intuitive user interface can streamline your practice and elevate your team’s well-being!

Here’s how high EHR usability improves provider workflow and lowers the risks of physician burnout:

Enhances Efficiency & Workflow

You need efficient access to patient information through streamlined navigation and intuitive interfaces in EHR systems. Moreover, these user-friendly interfaces feature a clear and intuitive layout, making navigating different screens and modules easy.

With an easy-to-use interface, you can quickly retrieve vital patient information, such as medical histories, laboratory results, and medication lists. Your daily workflows will benefit significantly from seamless access to information, freeing you from the hassle.

Accelerates & Streamlines Documentation

Sophisticated, user-friendly EHRs provide customizable templates and automated documentation tools to speed up charting. It allows you to create custom templates that cater to your practice requirements and eliminates repetitive data entry tasks, helping you save valuable time during patient visits. 

Improves Care Coordination

Lastly, integrating EHRs with ancillary systems, such as laboratories and pharmacies, facilitates real-time information exchange, enabling quicker decisions and improving care coordination. It enables healthcare providers to make prompt and informed decisions regarding patient diagnoses and treatments based on laboratory results. Moreover, providers can also transmit prescriptions electronically to pharmacies ensuring accurate and efficient medication management.

How Does EHR Improve Patient Safety?

There is a direct correlation between EHRs and patient safety. The integration of portals and scheduling systems reduces the wait time for patients. Furthermore, EHRs enhance providers’ access to crucial information on a patient’s health history, including allergies, lifestyle risk factors, drug indications, past surgical events, lab test results, and any other information necessary to make an accurate and reliable diagnosis. Emergency departments, in particular, use EHRs to support clinical decisions for patient treatments.

In addition, EHR systems can also recommend treatments and drugs based on their latest research to reduce errors in clinical care. A physician can use it to prescribe the proper medication for a patient with life-threatening allergies or to look up the patient’s complete medical history in an emergency room if the patient is unresponsive.

Importance of EHR Usability Testing

With EHR usability testing, you can understand how customers interact with your website and make adjustments accordingly. Make your app or website easy to use and navigate; otherwise, users might leave and go to another competitor’s website. 

In this test, you gather data about a website or app’s usability so you can improve its design. Using usability tests can benefit designers and developers alike, as it indicates trouble spots and areas where users get stuck.

Choose the Top EMR/EHR Software 

EHR usability is vital to healthcare providers and patients alike. It’s why most providers report high efficiency and effectiveness in healthcare delivery. It also plays a crucial role in patient safety, especially in reducing medication errors, missed diagnoses, and other adverse outcomes.

With those reasons in mind, it is apparent that EHR usability is crucial for improving the quality of modern healthcare.

Over the years, we have assisted podiatrists with EHR/EMR selection, implementation, and software usage. If you want to improve your EHR system, our customizable EMR/EHR software can meet your office needs. 

Schedule a demo or contact us through the contact form for more personalized information. Let’s work together to find the best software for your practice.

Do you have a favorite EHR add-on service? Feel free to comment below!

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