New Research Details More EHR Deficiencies

New Research Details More EHR Deficiencies April 6, 2015 by Vickie Anenberg

Once again, EHRs and the systems’ lack of interoperability have come under scrutiny for their potential to have adverse effects on quality care and patient safety. A new project reporting on flaws in graphics included researchers from the University of Texas Science Center and the Baylor College of Medicine.

Eight EHR systems were used to compare their graphical displays of lab results. Six of these systems had been certified by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), one was a prototype, and the other was the open source system developed by Veterans Affairs.

Using 11 separate criteria that included Patient ID, Title, Legend, Reference Range, and Data Details, the researchers concluded that none of the systems met all 11 criteria. One did meet 10 of them, and three EHRs met six of the standards. The results were not considered to be very encouraging moving forward.

According to the report, “Many current commercial EHRs have significant limitations in graphing capabilities of laboratory test results and often display results in non-standardized fashion. Accurate display and interpretation of clinical laboratory test results is essential for patient safety. With wider implementation of EHRs, more clinicians will rely on automatically-generated computerized displays that allow clear and accurate visual synthesis of data over time. Suboptimal displays could have serious implications for clinical decision-making. This is relevant because the April 2014 Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act report proposed that ‘no new or additional areas of FDA oversight [of EHRs] are needed.’”

Further, the researchers stated, “We recommend policymakers ensure clear and accurate visual display of laboratory data through more stringent Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology authorized testing and certification bodies EHR certification testing criteria.”

This report has been published by the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. In addition, a brief article has been posted by FierceEMR.

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