Study: EHR Systems Lack Adequate Lab Data Graphing Functions

March 23, 2015 in News

Current electronic health record systems lack adequate laboratory data graphing capabilities, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Modern Healthcare reports.

Study Details

For the study — which sought to determine the abilities of various EHR systems to display test results — researchers analyzed eight EHR systems based on 11 criteria.

Of the eight EHR systems included in the study, six had been certified by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, including those from:

  • Allscripts;
  • Cerner;
  • eClinicalWorks;
  • Epic;
  • Meditech; and
  • Partners Longitudinal Medical Record.

The other systems were the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Computerized Patient Record System and Glassomics, an EHR prototype designed to work with Google Glass.

The study did not rate the EHR systems by name (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 3/20).

Findings

Overall, the researchers found none of the systems met all 11 criteria.

According to the study, the highest-rated system achieved 10 of 11 criteria, while the lowest-rated system achieved five (Gruessner, EHR Intelligence, 3/20).

The most common problem among EHR systems was the failure to label the vertical, or Y-axis.

Other flaws included:

  • An EHR system that labeled data in reverse order with the most recent data on left instead of the right (Modern Healthcare, 3/20);
  • An EHR system that did not equally space out data points on graphs, which could result in an erroneous slope when measuring rates; and
  • Three systems that did not include patient identification directly on the graphs.

According to EHR Intelligence, the results showed a lack of standardized workflows among EHR systems, which could lead to an increase in medical errors and a decline in patient safety (EHR Intelligence, 3/20).

Recommendation

The authors of the study recommended that ONC include stricter requirements in future EHR testing and certification criteria “to ensure a clear and accurate visual display of lab data.”

Dean Sittig, study co-author and professor at the University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics, said, “We still haven’t even figured out how to label graphs correctly in a uniform fashion across EHRs.” He added that the graphing issues represent the lack of standards across health IT development (Modern Healthcare, 3/20).

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