Dr. Andrew Gettinger: 3 tips on ensuring EHR safety

Andrew Gettinger, MD, chief medical information officer and director of the Office of Clinical Quality and Safety for the ONC, expressed concern about patient safety in the design, implementation and execution of EHRs in a Patient Safety Network podcast.

Here are three thoughts Dr. Gettinger shared with Patient Safety Network, a publication of the HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

1. The EHR should employ user-centered design to ensure "screens are not overly busy, that they don't tax the user, that colors are used in a way that doesn't preclude colorblind people from seeing the appropriate cues and that the navigation is designed in a way to decrease the likelihood or frequency of doing something on the wrong patient," he said.

2. He recommended healthcare providers look at the ONC's SAFER, or Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience, guides, which address implementation safety issues. Because the people who implement EHRs often are not clinicians, they may not understand the challenges of day-to-day usability.

3. Clinicians who are used to paper records have to take the time to adjust to the EHR and learn how to use it. "If I were to go back to our large-scale deployment [at Dartmouth], I would have invested far more time in developing EHR simulations, getting our software configured, then making sure our clinicians played with the systems more before they started using them to care for patients," he said.

Click here to listen to the complete podcast.

More articles on EHRs: 

EHRs partially or completely implemented in 99% of US hospitals: 4 survey findings

Drs. John Halamka, Micky Tripathi: Policymakers invented the 'myth' of information blocking

4 former ONC heads pen op-ed on EHRs' 'path forward' after HITECH

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