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ChartLogic Team

Usability: The Reigning EHR Trend

July 22, 2013

Clinician, EHR 2 Minute Read

A new Black Book Rankings survey reveals that—surprise, surprise—usability is the number one factor providers are concerned about when switching EHRs. It’s also the reason most providers are switching EHRs in the first place. It doesn’t matter how many other nifty features the EHR has—if it’s not easy to use, providers aren’t interested.

With over a thousand EHR products currently on the market, one thing is clear: only the usable EHRs will survive past the next few years.

Here are a few more interesting findings from the Black Book Rankings survey:

  • 66 percent of those who use an EHR admit to not doing it willingly. Of those, 87 percent claim usability as their biggest complaint.
  • 92 percent of practices describe their current EHR as clunky and/or difficult to use.
  • 94 percent of doctors/administrators unhappy with their EHR believe that government direction is needed to standardize EHR usability
  • 70 percent of EHR users believe their vendor’s system functionality is not in need of massive programming changes to retain their business, but 93 percent state that they have little vendor loyalty concerns that would cause them to continue using an EHR system with usability flaws.
  • 91 percent of physicians over the age of 55 are dissatisfied with EHR usability.
  • 93 percent of physicians would prefer to replace their point-and-click model with voice-driven technologies that will improve productivity.

Several things stick out to me about these findings. First is that most EHR users believe that minor changes to their EHR will suffice. Often it’s the little things—like multiple pop-up screens and dropdown menus—that cause the most annoyance. Finding a way around these issues would go a long way in improving physician EHR satisfaction. Which leads me to my second observation: almost all of the physicians surveyed prefer a voice EHR over a traditional point-and-click EHR. Voice-driven EHRs are much easier to navigate, and they also most closely mimic doctors’ workflow.

And finally, doctors obviously don’t trust EHR vendors to make usability changes themselves; they want the government to step in. Basic usability guidelines, such as standardizing where certain buttons are located and minimizing the number of clicks, could go a long way in improving overall EHR satisfaction.

The shift we’re starting to see in the EHR market will have a lasting impact on medical practices and their patients, both now and in the future. Five years from now, I doubt we’ll be talking about EHR usability much at all, simply because it will be so normal it won’t be newsworthy.

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