IOM Discussion Paper Pushes for EHR Usability Comparisons

Transparency in EHR User Experiences

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is a nonprofit organization providing unbiased and authoritative research and advice to both decision makers and the public. Established in 1970, the IOM is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, chartered under President Lincoln in 1863. Through their research efforts the organization helps both the government and private sector make informed decisions on healthcare. You can follow their work on Twitter @theIOM, on Facebook and on Linkedin.

The IOM regularly publishes white papers on topics ranging from public health issues, biomedical research, quality and patient safety, population and health disparities, and more. This month the organization released its latest discussion paper Comparative User Experiences of Health IT Products: How User Experiences Would Be Reported and Used.

The discussion paper elaborates on the reasons for collecting and publicly reporting on EHR user experience, “user” referring to clinicians and healthcare organizations. These reasons include:

  • Improvements in safety and efficiency in the use of health IT products
  • Public reporting of user experiences will promote a more robust environment for improvements in design
  • Transparency in EHR user experience will facilitate crossvendor comparisons and the sharing of lessons learned
  • There is currently no place for users to share publicly the experiences they have had with their health IT products
  • Regulation by the FDA  is a serious possibility if improvement in health IT safety and usability is not achieved through a voluntary process

The paper addresses barriers to public reporting of EHR usability (vendor fears, lack of trust, time needed) but also makes several recommendations including the establishment of a single website, hosted by a trusted government entity or a trusted private entity, to serve as a hub for comparative user experiences. .

The authors of the paper conclude that EHRs, unlike other consumer product areas such as smart phones and tablets, provide little opportunity for cross-vendor comparison. This, they argue, has “stifled the evolution of this technology.”

Read and download the PDF of this discussion paper.