As electronic health record use continues to increase, clinician reaction remains mixed but improving interfaces and changing documentation can make the EHR process smoother, according to a working group of the American Medical Informatics Association.

AMIA’s 2020 Task Force was founded to “create recommendations to assure EHRs fit well into evolving workflow of healthcare delivery, support team-based care, enhance productivity and safety, and are as easy as possible to adopt.” On Monday at AMIA’s symposium in Washington, the task force shared some of their main recommendations of how to improve EHRs.

Among the problems outlined by the task force with e-health records is time-consuming data entry. “If you have a template it might not have all the fields you need,” says Sarah T. Corley, M.D., chief medical officer of EHR software vendor NextGen Healthcare and a member of the task force.” Further, Corley argues that cluttered screens make it hard to find fields and there is limited support for data entry. That includes a lot of information that is being entered manually that should be entered automatically, including a patient’s medications and allergies.

To improve these issues, the task force recommends:

*Improved used interface: Corley says electronic health records need multiple modes of data entry including voice and handwriting recognition, natural language processing, and in terms of informed consent, video recording.

*Interface to external device: This includes more standardization in specifications to reduce optionability. “When you have standard specifications … you will reduce the cost of these interfaces and will improve sharing of information when you go from one provider to another,” Corley says.  

*Reducing regulation documentation: Corley says making sure quality measures are set up and configured so they don’t require any additional data entry and eliminating some exclusion criteria, such as what you what did not prescribe a patient if they weren’t allergic to the medication.

*Care team documentation: All persons involved need to input data and this involved adjusting workflows. “Need to make sure it’s just the doctor putting in data,” Corley says. “No one went to medical school to be a data clerk.”

In related news, the American Medical Association recently announced a new framework for improving EHR usability designed to benefit both caregivers and patients. Specifically, AMA developed eight usability priorities that the organization asserts will result in EHR improvements and greater physician satisfaction.

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