EMR Usability – Standardization vs Usability and Innovation

This is a classic debate – whether it is nobler to be consistent or to be usable! EMRs have notoriously been both inconsistent and also very unusable. So, what to do – fix the inconsistencies or fix the usability issues? The problem is, fixing one of these issues doesn’t necessarily fix the other!

Here’s an article titled “AMA report: Standardizing EMRs would ‘stifle innovation‘” that addresses these issues.

The topics of usability of electronic medical records (EMRs)–and their ability to “effectively integrate” with clinical decision-making and work flow–will be on the agenda when the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates meets next month in Chicago. The focus, contained in a trustees report, will be on how these issues have not been adequately addressed so far.

The trustees report addresses a 2009 resolution that called for the AMA to promote the development and universal adoption of a “standardized user interface” for all EMR systems, and to advocate for a federal mandate for interoperability of EMRs as part of its healthcare reform agenda.

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One Response to EMR Usability – Standardization vs Usability and Innovation

  1. JW says:

    Consistency & Standards is one of the heuristics of usability. However, let’s say you have a method of adding a new allergy to a patient’s chart that is highly unusable. If you are developing a new module for adding a problem to the patient’s chart – should you make it consistent with the poor allergy module or should you attempt to improve it, which will make it more usable, at the cost of lower consistency.

    I favor the latter. Ideally at some point in the future you would circle back to address the module with poor usability.

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