ONC Blog: Reducing the Clinician Burden: Shaping Health IT as an Asset

“Health IT has helped drive progress in health care over the last decade, but it has also introduced a variety of different challenges, many reported by the clinical community. As we explored in our latest article published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, ONC and other federal partners have taken and continue to take steps to reduce clinician burden when using health IT.”

“As adoption of health IT has increased, we have seen firsthand how usability issues associated with the underlying software, implementation choices made by practices and institutions, and lack of effective training can diminish the desired impact of health IT use. Well-meaning initiatives promoting field-defined, actionable data have led to “check the box” workflows and subsequent loss of the patient’s narrative.”

“Rectifying these issues requires coordinated attention to improved design of health IT systems, better system configuration decisions, and effective end-user training during implementation. These actions can help health IT to function as an asset instead of an obstacle, and positively impact usability, safety, clinician satisfaction with health IT, and care.”

Reducing Clinician Burden

“In 2016, Congress enacted the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act), which included requirements for the executive branch to examine and address clinician burden related to the use of electronic health records (EHRs). As a result, ONC engaged with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other federal partners to understand and document clinician burden challenges…”

“We found several key usability issues with current health IT system design and implementation including ineffective cognitive support for users, issues with interface design and integrating health IT into physical environments, limitations of current functionality such as order entry, and how configuration and implementation decisions could impact usability and use. In the report, we outline four areas that need to be addressed to improve the usability of health IT:

  1. Better alignment of EHRs with clinical workflow, including improved decision making and documentation tools;
  2. Optimized user interface design to improve efficiency, experience, and end-user satisfaction;
  3. Harmonized clinical content to reduce burden; and
  4. Promotion of implementation decisions for clinician efficiency, satisfaction, and lower burden…”

Where We Go From Here

“To keep advancing health IT, all of us across the health care system need to continue emphasizing user-centered design and human factors and ergonomics…” Read the full article here.

Source: Reducing the Clinician Burden: Shaping Health IT as an Asset – By Andrew Gettinger and Teresa Zayas Cabán, March 4, 2021. ONC.

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