Is Using Health IT “Desk Work”?

In a new blog post, Mark Segal, PhD, EHRA Chair Emeritus and Vice President of Government and Industry Affairs at GE Healthcare Digital, questions the frequent dismissal of EHRs and other digital health tools like as distracting “desk work” taking physicians away from the more valuable clinical practice of medicine.

A few excerpts:

“Certainly, physicians face a heavy burden of clinical and administrative documentation. And there are real opportunities to enhance the usability of EHRs and other health HIT. There is also the complicating situation that multiple stakeholders want to use EHRs as a vehicle to collect more data than might be obtained in a paper world… [but] It makes no more sense to hold the EHR or its developer responsible for the work done using this tool than it does to attribute to the developer of my e-mail or word processing applications the work I must perform using these tools.”

“As with any technology, there are real opportunities to understand and enhance users’ experience. [T]he EHR development community includes usability as a major priority in the EHR Developer Code of Conduct. The challenge and opportunity is to continually improve the usability and value of health IT, not to disparage its use.”

“Finally, all stakeholders should work to eliminate low-value tasks clinicians are asked to do through EHRs. Some of this opportunity involves developers working with clinicians to improve user experience. But most will come from efforts…  to act on studies identifying excessive documentation and reporting requirements imposed on physicians and handled through EHRs, in many cases actually reducing usability. This long overdue initiative focuses on the burden, not the tool used to handle it.”

You can read the full post on the GE Health IT Views blog.

To learn more about recent efforts by EHR developers to improve usability, click here.

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