The modern healthcare environment has experienced tremendous changes in the past few decades because of the increased need to enhance patient outcomes and safety. These changes have contributed to the adoption of technology, which has transformed modern communication. Technology adoption in the healthcare setting has been geared towards enhancing patient care processes and systems in order to realize better patient outcomes. This adoption has involved the development of several technologies that are utilized in the healthcare setting including (EHR) and Computerized Provider Order Entry Systems (CPOE). This paper examines electronic health records (EHR) healthcare technology in terms of various elements, user-technology interface, and functionality.
Electronic Health Records (EHR) Technology
As previously indicated, one of the revolutionary technologies in the modern healthcare setting is electronic health records (EHR), which is regarded as an important healthcare component for management of patient data/information. As the name suggests, an electronic health record is an electronic version of the medical history of a patient, which is maintained by the healthcare provider over time (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2012). EHR may also incorporate important administrative clinical information that is vital for the care of the specific patient. Some of these administrative clinical data that may be incorporated in patients electronic health record include demographics, health risks and status, past medical history, diagnosis, and medications.
The effectiveness of electronic health records in enhancing patient outcomes and safety will be evaluated using elements of user-interface technology or human factors. This analysis will be centered on assessment of the functionality of this technology in the healthcare sector. The use of these elements will help in promoting an understanding of the user-technology interface with regards to the adoption of electronic health records in the clinical setting. The evaluation of user-technology interface helps in understanding how electronic health records have affected clinical processes and practices. The three elements of user-technology interface that will be utilized to evaluate electronic health records are input controls, informational components, and navigational components.
Assessment of Electronic Health Records
contain different input controls including list boxes, text fields, toggles, data and time pickers, and buttons for various functions. These input functions are utilize to key in patients data, which is utilized in clinical decision making and processes. Some of these input controls like toggles are utilized to enable exchange of the patients health record among health care providers, clinical team, hospitals, and across states. The use of such controls for exchange of patient health records is attributable to the fact that electronic health records are designed to promote information sharing among all care providers involved in a patients case.
With regards to navigational components, electronic health records contain tags, icons, pagination, search field, and sliders. Tags are utilized to enable users find content in a particular category whereas pagination separate information between pages, which makes it easier for the user of move around pages. Search fields are used to enter keywords or phrases that help in easy retrieval of information while icons act as symbols to assist users in navigating the system and sliders enable users to establish or alter values.
In relation to information components, electronic health records contain notifications or alerts that provide real-time information regarding potential hazards, errors or omissions based on new data (Horsky et al., 2012). They also contain ordering support through which providers receive real-time critique of clinical processes and medication and suggestions of appropriate drug alternatives or dosing depending on the patients health status and his/her characteristics. The other information component in an electronic health record is guidelines through which clinicians obtain patient-specific suggestions emerging from context-based searches.
Suggestions for Improvement
While these elements of user-technology interface have played a key role in the usability of electronic health records in the clinical setting, the usability can be enhanced through some improvements in each of the elements. For input controls, electronic health records should forms or templates that guide documentation of a patients medical information in order to avoid any errors (Horsky et al., 2012). The forms or templates should also be utilized to guide the ordering of medical tests and processes as well as care planning. In relation to navigational components, electronic health records can be improved through for experienced users, which enhance the speed of entry and management of patient data. Additionally, they should incorporate user preferences, which make adoption easier and safer (McNickle, 2012). With regards to information components, electronic health records can be improved through incorporating clinical pathways that are based on evidence-based practices to help improve patient interventions. The clinical pathways can be established through incorporating progress bars that indicate clinical processes/interventions that the patient undergoes.
In conclusion, electronic health records have emerged as important components of the modern healthcare setting with regards to the management of patient information. Unlike paper-based documentation, this technology makes it easy for clinicians to document and retrieve patient information. Electronic health records have a suitable user-technology interface that can be improved through enhancements in input controls and navigational and information elements.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2012, March 26). Electronic Health Records. Retrieved from U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/E-Health/EHealthRecords/index.html
Horsky et al. (2012, December). Interface Design Principles for Usable Decision Support: A Targeted Review of Best Practices for Clinical Prescribing Interventions. Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 45(6), 1202-1216.
McNickle, M. (2012, January 27). 5 Dos and Donts of EHR Interface Design. Healthcare IT News. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from http://www.healthcareitnews.