AMA Develops EHR Usability Priorities

The American Medical Association has adopted a framework of usability priorities for EHRs that it plans to promote to vendors, government agencies and providers in hopes to encourage more effective use of the software.

The set of eight priorities were developed with the support of the AMA's Advisory Committee on Physician EHR Usability, an external group composed of practicing physicians with EHR expertise, nationally recognized health informaticists, human factors researchers, chief medical information officers and CIOs of several major healthcare organizations. 

Though the AMA acknowledges increased use of EHRs as a result of recent market and government incentives, some early generation technology were, and frequently remain, poorly optimized to support efficient and effective clinical work, according to the AMA.

"The designs of many EHRs do not meet the needs of physicians and too often detract from valuable time with patients," says Christine Sinsky, M.D., a member of the AMA committee. "They can do this by providing concise, context sensitive and real-time data that is uncluttered by extraneous information. This will help in eliminating the current information overload and unnecessary administrative data entry that is overwhelming today's physicians an interfering with patient care."

The AMA EHR Usability Priorities are designed to help resolve the specific challenges that the committee determined physicians are having with EHRs. Such challenges include interference with the patient visit, lack of system design support for team-based care and care coordination and lack of support for incorporating user input. 

The AMA priorities require that future versions of EHRs:

* Enhance physicians' ability to provide high-quality patient care

*Support team-based care

*Promote care coordination

*Offer product modularity and configurability

*Reduce cognitive workload

*Promote data liquidity

*Facilitate digital and mobile patient engagement

*And expedite user input into product design and post-implementation feedback.

The AMA believes that if its EHR priorities were implemented in future designs of the technology, it would enable physicians to deliver higher quality care to patients, improve physician experience with the technology, increase physician productivity and reduce administrative costs. It also contents that additional research is needed to determine how EHR use promotes or inhibits high quality care. 

"It is essential to better understand the cognitive needs of physicians and how EHR products can meet them, identify evidence that outlines the benefit tools that support decision-making and explore how EHRs influence the patient encounter," AMA officials stated. "These all are opportunities for research that would benefit the advancement of EHR technology."