What makes an EHR more usable? The answer is a team consisting of patients, physicians, and vendors.
Play 1: Physicians need to engage patients and the vendor.
Physicians and clinicians are the primary users of an EHR. As users they need to open a channel to their EHR vendor and offer insights and suggestions on how to make their interaction with the technology smooth, beneficial, convenient, accurate, and useful. It will take some time to communicate these elements, but it is the only way to move more quickly up the usability curve. It will be time well-spent.
In addition, ultimately, patients will have access to information contained within an electronic health record. A conversation needs to happen between physicians and patients about how they want to get their data and in what form. There have been several recent articles about how patients value having access to their notes in the EHR. Patients add an essential perspective to how an EHR should be used. It is a system to serve them and their care.
Play 2: Vendors need to engage physicians and patients in the usability of their applications.
The best healthcare vendors listen to their customers. It is more than listening though. It is acting on what is heard in a way that makes the product better, more usable, and more effective. EHR vendors can change the model by involving patients in this process as well. Even though physicians, clinicians, and administrative personnel are the primary users of an EHR, their solutions benefit patients, too. Information in an EHR will be viewed and carried forward by patients, so they can provide a valuable perspective on usability.
Play 3: Patients need to be open to giving feedback and insights on electronic health records.
The first step in this process may be for patients to ask for access or a copy of relevant data from their EHR. To gain credibility in the process, patients need to be conversant, meaning they need to have their data in whatever form their physicians will provide it.