AMA study: Physicians give EHR usability an 'F' rating

An American Medical Association-led study found that in terms of usability, physicians grade EHRs as an "F" rating and attribute them as a cause of burnout, according to a Nov. 14 report published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Along with the AMA, researchers from Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic, New Haven, Conn.-based Yale University School of Medicine and Palo Alto, Calif.-based Stanford School of Medicine collaborated on the study.

Researchers surveyed a group of 870 physicians from all specialty disciplines between October 2017 and March 2018 for the study. Participants were asked to evaluate their EHR usability by applying the System Usability Scale, which is a measure used in more than 1,300 other usability studies from various industries.

Results of the study showed that physicians rated EHR usability as a 45.9, which is in the bottom 9 percent of scores across previous SUS studies and categorized in the "not acceptable" range or with a grade of "F." Regarding burnout, the lower physicians rated their EHR usability, the higher the probability was that they also reported symptoms of burnout.

For comparison, users in other SUS studies ranked the usability of "Google's search engine an 'A.' Microwave ovens, ATMs and Amazon got 'Bs.' Microsoft Word, DVRs and GPSes got 'Cs.' Microsoft Excel, with its steep learning curve, got an 'F,'" according to Yale News. In Melnick’s study, EHRs came in last, with a score of 45 — an even lower "F" score than Excel's 57.

In response to the study, AMA released on Nov. 14 the following statement: "It is a national imperative to overhaul the design and use of EHRs and reframe the technology to focus primarily on its most critical function — helping physicians care for their patients. Significantly enhancing EHR usability is key and the AMA is working to ensure a new generation of EHRs are designed to prioritize time with patients, rather than overload physicians with type-and-click tasks."

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