A new study involving clinicians using electronic health records to perform certain common tasks found that the design, development and implementation of these systems should be improved to make them easier to use by clinicians and safer for patients. The study, published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, focused on the two largest EHR vendors – Epic and Cerner – and was conducted at four health systems. Twelve to 15 emergency physicians per site were given common tasks mimicking real patient cases – placing orders for medical imaging, lab tests and medications. Researchers collected data pertaining to length of time and number of clicks to complete each task, as well as the degree of accuracy. The findings showed significant variability in performance across the sites. “Our results suggest that basic performance standards for all implemented EHRs should be considered in order to ensure usable and safe systems,” the authors said. “Both EHR vendors and providers should work together to ensure that usable and safe products are implemented and used.” Researchers with MedStar Health’s National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, the American Medical Association and others conducted the study, which was funded by the AMA.

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