What You Get is What You See
Why is it so important that electronic health records (EHR) systems present patient information clearly and concisely, and that EHR vendors provide physicians the best possible user experience on a range of devices?
This is not a trick question. The answer may seem obvious, but the solution has been surprisingly elusive.
It’s important because what a physician understands about a patient’s situation – the patient-specific “knowledge base” upon which a provider’s clinical diagnosis and treatment plan are based – is determined by the information that’s presented on the EHR screen. In other words, for a physician, what they “get” (comprehend) is what they see.
That fundamental truth applied in the world of paper medical records as much as it does today in EHR-land. Only now, rather than illegible handwriting and paper glut being the biggest barriers to comprehension, the primary obstacles are poorly designed data presentation on computer or tablet screens, fragmented information sources, and unwieldy interfaces that require dozens of mouse clicks or screen taps by busy clinicians.
In a recent national survey of physicians, 36 percent reported they were unable to review a full contextual patient history in their hospital EHR system. How are clinicians to make informed decisions about a patient’s treatment if they can’t easily access and digest the information they need to form a complete picture of that patient? Such physician indigestion could be more than a minor discomfort; it’s potentially a catastrophic obstruction to effective patient care.
If what you get is what you see, what you don’t see can be a real problem.