The National Institute of Standards and Technology and other stakeholders are calling on the health care industry to evaluate the usability of electronic health records, InformationWeek reports.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality also are participating in the effort to evaluate EHR usability.
NIST outlined its push for improved EHR usability during an Oct. 27 webcast that focused on its recently released report -- titled, "Technical Evaluation, Testing and Validation of the Usability of Electronic Health Records" -- that contains draft guidelines for user-friendly EHR development.
According to the draft guidelines, many clinicians agree that EHRs can lead to user errors that might be harmful to patients. Simplifying EHRs would reduce user errors and spur greater EHR adoption among health care providers, the guidelines state.
"[C]ritical use errors" of EHRs can occur when accessing the wrong patient record, when records are incomplete or not updated, or when records contain inadequate feedback, Emily Patterson, assistant professor at the Ohio State University's College of Medicine, said during the webcast.
Chris Gibbons, associate director at the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute, added that errors also can occur when adding verbal documentation to EHRs, especially in busy care settings.
The draft guidelines outlined a three-step methodology for evaluating and developing more user-friendly EHRs:
- Conducting a usability or human factors analysis of the application during EHR user interface development;
- Having experts review and analyze the EHR user interface after it is developed; and
- Testing the EHR interface with users.
NIST is soliciting comments on the draft guidelines from EHR vendors, health IT managers and other stakeholders through Nov. 10 (Lewis, InformationWeek, 11/1).