Healthcare Technology Featured Article

February 01, 2013

American Medical Informatics Association Outlines Concerns about Electronic Health Records



It’s not only a movement in healthcare; it’s the law. One of the elements of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is a series of changes that will standardize billing and require health plans to begin adopting and implementing rules for the secure, confidential, electronic exchange of health information.

It is believed that EHRs will reduce paperwork and administrative burdens, cut costs, reduce medical errors and improve the quality of care.

While few people would disagree that EHR could improve patient outcomes and save money, with modern communications solutions of course come modern problems. One of these issues is the potential outcome of electronic health records stored improperly or communicated over poorly designed networks.

This has led many healthcare groups to question the usability and safety of health IT systems.

One of those groups is the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), which convened an EHR usability task force in late 2011. This week, the AMIA released a position paper on EHR usability in which the group called on multiple stakeholders to act in order to lessen the chance of patient harm from poorly designed and implemented technology, InformationWeek is reporting.

The AMIA published its paper in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA), and outlined 10 recommendations in four areas: research into health IT-related human factors; health IT policy; vendors; and clinician end users. The goal of the group is to launch informed debate, provide a plan to increase understanding of the impact of usability on the effective use of health IT, and lead to safer and higher quality care with the adoption of useful and usable EHR systems.

The group’s recommendations include creating best practices for IT systems carrying electronic records, standardization across EHR systems, establishment of an adverse event reporting system, promote educational campaigns for healthcare workers and monitoring how IT health systems are used and maintained.

Oversight is critical, said the group.

“The fundamental approach to health IT needs to change," study author Dr. Blackford Middleton, corporate director of clinical informatics research and development at Partners Healthcare System and 2013 AMIA chair-elect, told InformationWeek Healthcare. "We've been installing it and not measuring it like we would any other intervention."

The group calls on both vendors of health IT technology as well as end users to adopt best practices for EHR implementation and management, as well as monitor how clinicians use health IT systems and report any adverse events, said Middleton.




Edited by Braden Becker




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