It’s no secret that the user experience of many electronic health records (EHR) systems has been a point of frustration for some providers. Common complaints indicate that they can be too time-consuming, difficult to use, unreliable, and act as a barrier between physicians and their patients. To understand how EHRs have fallen short of expectations, it’s critical to consider how they relate to the goals and objectives of each individual healthcare organization.
All tasks require tools that are appropriate for the job—this is as true in healthcare IT as in engineering. Unfortunately, despite the availability of more than 300 different products, the EHR market offers limited functional diversity. This is particularly true among some of the most well-known brands. These systems often aim to be one-size-fits-all solutions to maximize sales potential, despite the dynamic impact that differences such as geography, demographics, and patient population size can have on providers’ unique needs.
In order to identify an EHR user experience that aligns with demands of each practice, providers should evaluate the following factors:
- Right-sized capabilities. Aim to find an EHR that provides only the features you need, and nothing you don’t need. Similar to buying a car, it’s easy to be distracted by the appeal of unnecessary features and capabilities. However, these can cause the user experience to feel bloated and more challenging to navigate. While the perfect match may not exist, it’s worth pursuing to the best of your ability in order to deliver exactly what your users want.
- User interface design. When discussing user interface, the term ‘design’ encompasses more than visual appearance. The most crucial component of a good user interface is providing users with the fastest and easiest path to resolving issues and completing tasks. Make sure that the most important and frequently used tools and features can be located and accessed with minimal effort and in as few clicks as possible.
- Customization. Tailored dashboards can help users establish workflows specific to the needs of their roles and the practice. With this capability, users should be able to see critical information, such as daily tasks and new test results, at first glance upon logging into the system.
- Interoperability and integrations. Interoperability with systems external to an organization supports meaningful use regulations and population health management, and it helps provide the best possible customer experience. Meanwhile, integrations allow users to take data from one EHR and import it into another, which can dynamically simplify the process of switching EHRs.
- Accessibility and mobility. Cloud-based EHRs provide numerous user experience benefits, including improved accessibility, reduced IT footprints, minimization of security risks, and off-hours maintenance and upgrades. However, it’s important that these platforms offer mobile applications that tailor the experience to the device.
- Implementation and training. The user experience of an EHR goes beyond the software itself once implementation is underway. It’s critical to find a vendor with a proven record of successful installations, including coordinating data exchange to other dependent solutions, such as practice management and revenue cycle management software. Additionally, a reasonable training program consisting of multiple sessions should be provided.
- Customer service and support. Exceptional reliability, service, and support from an EHR vendor should be expected long after implementation is completed. When questions or concerns arise, users should have quick and easy access to 24/7 support with a qualified customer support representative.
To learn more about evaluating the user experience of EHRs, download our latest white paper, “Resetting EHR User Experience Expectations.”