The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has issued a challenge to the industry to identify potential solutions for helping providers report on the usability or safety of their electronic health record systems.

ONC’s Easy EHR Issue Reporting Challenge is a “multidisciplinary call to software developers, clinicians and innovators to create a tool that will make it easier for doctors, nurses and other care team members to efficiently and effectively report concerns about the usability or safety of EHRs to appropriate parties, such as the hospital or practice’s IT team, the EHR developer, and Patient Safety Organizations,” states an agency announcement.

According to ONC Chief Clinical Officer Andy Gettinger, MD, reporting on the safe use of health IT— particularly EHRs—continues to be a challenge for many providers.

“Stakeholder feedback—and our own experiences—show that there is a need for more efficient and user-friendly mechanisms that allow EHR end users to report concerns quickly and easily, with little or no disruption to their workflow,” wrote Gettinger in a May 22 blog. “The vast majority of EHRs currently in use in physician offices and hospitals require the end user to either log out of the EHR system entirely or leave the current workflow process to report a problem. Some EHRs even include a separate error reporting module, but others require the end user to fill out a report through a totally separate mechanism.”

To address this problem, ONC is challenging software developers to produce an app that integrates with an EHR’s workflow; minimizes the time and effort needed to create a report; enables the clinician practice, hospital or end user to choose the parties to whom it reports; and is EHR platform-agnostic.

Also See: ONC guide focuses on adopting EHRs to aid patient safety

“Submitters must undertake user testing and/or co-design the tool with end users (preferably a mix of physicians, nurses and other clinicians) and report on direct feedback received during development of the application,” according to Gettinger.

The agency will award $80,000 in total prizes to the winning submissions—$45,000 for first place, $25,000 for second place and $10,000 for third place.

Additional information about ONC’s Easy EHR Issue Reporting Challenge is available here. The deadline for submissions is October 15.

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