Pew, AMA: 6 components to consider when assessing EHR safety, usability

The Pew Charitable Trusts, MedStar Health's National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare in Washington, D.C., and the American Medical Association released a report outlining ways to improve EHR safety and usability Aug. 28.

The report comprises a foundation for a voluntary certification framework to guide EHR developers and healthcare providers conducting safety assessments of EHRs — whether during the design, implementation or training stages — with a focus on identifying usability-related risks to patient care.

To develop the framework, the organizations conducted a literature review and solicited input from a panel of EHR developers and clinicians who offered best practices and model test cases related to EHR safety and usability.

Here are six stages developers and providers move through during the EHR product lifecycle and notes to consider during each one to improve product safety, as outlined in the report:

1. Encourage a culture of safety that prioritizes optimizing EHR systems to mitigate usability and safety hazards

2. Support design and development of an EHR product that prioritizes usability for end-users like clinicians

3. Identify the appropriate EHR product to meet healthcare providers' needs

4. Customize the EHR with tailored coding and configuration to meet the specific needs of the healthcare organization acquiring the product

5. Implement and maintain a safe and usable EHR product through regular system upgrades

6. Train clinicians and other end-users to safely and effectively use the EHR product

Developers and providers should consider each criterion included in a voluntary certification program, according to the report, and decide for themselves which are the most appropriate to implement.

"While the criteria provide a framework for factors that can be included in voluntary certification programs, each institution creating such a program would have to tailor it to its specific goals and mission," the report reads.

To download the report, click here.

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