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Make EHRs More Like Cars, Healthcare CIOs Say

InformationWeek, June 13, 2011

Rather than study electronic health record (EHR) usability in the abstract, "a few high-value use cases, particularly those that have patient safety implications," should be examined, according to recommendations developed by the Health IT Policy Committee's adoption and certification workgroup.Those recommendations--based on a day of hearings held by the workgroup--were outlined in a letter to national health IT coordinator Farzad Mostashari, MD. In the letter, Marc Probst, CIO at Intermountain Healthcare and co-chair of the workgroup, and Larry Wolf, senior consulting application/data architect at Kindred Healthcare and a workgroup member, broke down different facets of usability before suggesting the test-case approach. "A repeated analogy we heard in the hearing is that of the automobile: steering wheel, directional signals, accelerator, and brake pedals have a high degree of consistency from vehicle to vehicle. Other aspects of the vehicle's controls and indicator dials vary somewhat but not all that much. Similarly, road signage is consistent for stop signs, informational, and warning signs," they wrote.