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Jerris Heaton

The Relationship Between EHR Usability, Experience and Performance

November 16, 2020

Clinician, EHR 4 Minute Read

EHRs are a pivotal tool for any clinician. They offer an abundance of benefits, but their design isn’t always ideal. What’s the key to EHRs being a useful resource? EHR usability is critical to adoption and satisfaction of the user.

But what makes EHRs more usable? There are many facets to the usability question, including the product’s design and how much experience the user has. Let’s dive into the intertwined relationship of EHR usability, experience and performance.

New Study Signals EHR Experience Decreases Usability Issues

A new study, Usability Evaluation of an EHR to Improve Physician Performance, seeks to understand the connections between EHR usability, experience and performance. Central to the conversation is the fact that EHR usability has a significant impact on healthcare. It can reduce clinical errors and costs while improving patient safety. Further, a better EHR experience leads to less physician burnout. 

The study looked specifically at the difference in usage for novice (first-year) and expert resident physicians (second-year). Researchers gave each group two rounds of tasks to accomplish in the EHR, followed by a System Usability Scale (SUS) assessment.

The study determined that novices held steady on usability issues from round one task to round two tasks, while experts saw a decline in the second set. The most common user challenges revolved around the documentation of new medication allergies, diagnosis integration, placing orders for panels, changing medications and adding medications to a favorites list. 

Relationship Between EHR Usability Experience and Performance

Although the usability issues declined in the second round for the experts, the SUS score didn’t increase. What does this mean? It provides several insights. First, more experience with a system does reduce usability errors. However, since the SUS scores did not increase, physicians did become more proficient with experience but didn’t correlate proficiency with usability. 

It’s like with any software in any industry – the more you use it, the better you become at it. You find workarounds when the user experience isn’t as smooth as you’d like. What this demonstrates is that practice makes proficient, not perfect.

The real concern comes with usability issues and their connection to physician burnout

Do Physicians Believe EHRs Have High Usability?

As with any scientific conclusion, one study doesn’t tell the whole story, and there have been many studies on EHR usability, adoption and performance.

The Mayo Clinic published a report in March 2020 about the correlation between EHR usability and physician burnout. The conclusion was that those physicians in the study gave their current EHR an “F” regarding technology usability. The connection between the dissatisfaction with the EHR and burnout is real and confirmed. 

What’s Wrong with EHR Usability? 

The question becomes, why aren’t EHRs optimizing usability? The industry should be focusing on how clinicians interact with technology so that it’s a help, not a hindrance.

Relationship Between EHR Usability Experience and Performance

Another study from the Annals of Internal Medicine disclosed that physicians spend more time with EHRs than patients. The research determined than physicians spend about 16 minutes and 16 seconds on tech during a 30-minute patient visit. 

A New Approach to EHRs—One That Involves the Most Important Stakeholder, the Clinician

EHRs have evolved dramatically since first arriving to digitize the healthcare world. As developers of one of the first EHRs, ChartLogic has learned many things about making platforms more usable. The ChartLogic EHR focuses on the user experience so that clinicians become more proficient with more usage and aren’t overwhelmed or burnout by poor performing software. 

The ChartLogic EHR focuses on workflows that resemble how clinicians actually work so that learning the tool is easier because it’s a natural progression. As the healthcare digital landscape has grown, ChartLogic has added more features that meet the needs of users. 

Explore more about the ChartLogic EHR and see how it works with a demo. 

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