AMA Unveils Framework Outlining Priorities To Improve EHR Usability

September 17, 2014 in News

On Tuesday, the American Medical Association released a framework outlining eight priorities for making electronic health records easier for providers to use, Modern Healthcare reports (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 9/16).

Background

AMA developed its framework of priority areas alongside an external advisory committee made up of industry stakeholders, including physicians, researchers and health IT executives.

According to AMA, the framework builds on a recent study the group conducted with the RAND Corporation that found ineffective and complex EHR systems contribute to high levels of job dissatisfaction among physicians (AMA release, 9/16).

AMA President-Elect Steven Stack said, “The meaningful use program and the regulatory structure associated with it initially has been a wonderful impetus to get health systems to adopt [EHRs],” but the “processes associated with it have become overly prescriptive, rigid and unreasonable and have themselves become a barrier” (Caryn Rabin, “Capsules,” Kaiser Health News, 9/16).

Details of Framework

To improve usability and other related issues, AMA highlighted eight priorities for EHR systems:

  • Enhancing physicians’ ability to provide high-quality patient care;
  • Supporting team-based care;
  • Promoting care coordination;
  • Reducing cognitive workload;
  • Promoting data liquidity;
  • Facilitating digital and mobile patient engagement; and
  • Expediting user input into product design and post-implementation feedback.

In addition, AMA outlined steps it would take to improve EHR systems, including:

  • Advocating for state and federal health IT policy changes;
  • Educating physicians about the eight priorities to help them promote the development of better EHR systems (AMA framework, 9/16);
  • Engaging EHR vendors about needed changes (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 9/16);
  • Partnering with researchers to better understand health IT usability issues; and
  • Working with health care systems and institutions to develop and improve health IT policies (AMA framework, 9/16).

ONC’s Reaction

Deputy National Coordinator for Health IT Jacob Reider said, “We applaud the AMA for speaking out on this,” adding, “It will take a few years before we will see an iPhone-like [EHR]. We’ll get there, but it’s primarily in the hands of the developers.”

Reider stressed that federal regulators also are concerned with EHR system usability and noted that 2014 meaningful use certification standards mandate that EHR vendors report on their “user-centered design” processes (Beck, Wall Street Journal, 9/16).

ONC spokesperson Peter Ashkenaz added that while ONC supports “AMA’s efforts to improve EHRs” for providers, “[w]e also know that no software is perfect, and therefore no EHR is perfect” (“Capsules,” Kaiser Health News, 9/16).

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