Inadequate implementation of electronic health records (EHR) systems leads to errors that could put patients at risk, according to newly released research conducted in collaboration with faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Nursing.

UNC-Chapel Hill was one of four research sites participating in the study, the results from which were published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA). From each of the four health centers, investigators analyzed mouse clicks, keystrokes and video data from participating physicians’ EHR use. The teams found the time taken for these tasks and high rate of errors varied widely, which could interfere with patient safety.

“Health care systems should streamline their EHR training procedures to make sure hospitals are using best practices for reviewing and requesting patient information, labs, imaging and medications,” said Saif Khairat, Ph.D., assistant professor at the School and Carolina Health Informatics Program. Khairat was the principal investigator at UNC’s research site.

“We saw error rates reach 50 percent while observing providers as they ordered medication in the EHR, which demonstrates a serious risk to patient safety,” he said. “Vendors also have the responsibility of optimizing the interface design and functionality of their products to help users successfully complete tasks in the ERH.”

Politico mentioned the study in its July 5 morning health report, which can be read here: go.unc.edu/EHRstudy. Find the article abstract here: go.unc.edu/Gf4g8.

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