Policy makers keep wondering why physicians do not readily adopt EMR/EHR software. Under ONC’s first head, David Brailer, it was decided that a big problem was a lack of certification of EMR software to insure that it worked as advertised, which led to the founding of CCHIT. Funny thing though – despite CCHIT’s best efforts to certify EMR software, EMR adoption has not seen any dramatic increase.
I won’t bother with the argument that hey doc, ever hear of caveat emptor? Take the time to actually call a reference customer or two and go see the software in action before you buy it. I mean do you really need someone to do that work for you by way of certification when you are paying for it?
Okay, so if it is not certification, it must be all about the money so let’s pour billions of dollars into the market to encourage clinicians to adopt “certified EHRs”. Oh, and doctor, you are going to have to pay upfront for that software, install it and prove you can use it in a meaningful fashion before we give you one red penny. To which a clinician may reply:
Well it’s nice to see some potential dollars come my way to buy such software, but is it really worth the trouble? I mean after all, it is well-known among the peers I talk to out on the golf course that one takes a huge productivity hit for months after installing this stuff.
To which policy makers and those that echo them reply, well if productivity is an issue, than it must be an issue of usability of the EHR software so let’s set-up a process to certify usability.
Now certifying usability is virtually impossible for a whole host of reasons and worse, traveling down such a path would detrimentally impact innovation, the last thing we need in this market so lacking in such within HIT. And no, such a certification process will have absolutely no effect on adoption of EHRs. Adoption will occur when there is sufficient reason (value) to adopt.
But for those EHR developers out there who are looking to increase the value proposition that they can offer clinicians, certainly making their software easier to use is a good place to start. And to learn more about usability, you may want to take a look at the presentation below that the company User Centric recently presented to the Chicago HIMSS group. Tip: Slide 33 will give you some idea why harried docs hate eCharts and maybe more broadly, EHRs for encounters (something which athenahealth confirmed when I visited their offices today – more on that next week).