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87% of Physicians Say Quantity of EHR Alerts 'Excessive'

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, March 5, 2013

Electronic health records systems are the latest source of information overload.

Nearly one-third of physicians miss electronic notifications of test results in electronic health record systems, according to a research letter published this week in JAMA.

Of the 2,590 primary care providers surveyed in the Department of Veterans Affairs by the researchers, 86.9% perceived the quantity of EHR alerts to be excessive, and 69.6% said they received more alerts than they could effectively manage. More than half (55%) of surveyed physicians said current EHR systems made it possible to miss the alerts.

"What stood out was information overload and the easier the systems were to use, you tended to miss [fewer] test results." said Hardeep Singh, MD, MPH, the study's lead author, from the Houston VA Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence.

Singh's earlier research on this topic was published in the Journal for Patient Safety in 2010, where he argued for integrating alert notification systems within electronic health records to help physicians avoid missing abnormal test results in diagnostic procedures.

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2 comments on "87% of Physicians Say Quantity of EHR Alerts 'Excessive'"


Chris (3/12/2013 at 5:47 AM)
As somebody who configures systems in hospitals, my experience with physicians is that there is typically a "doctor user forum" where we go and demo the next feature of the system to be implemented. There might be 100 physicians using the system, but only 5 to 10 show up to the meeting, and of those who show up, one physician will say, I need 10 alerts. The other ones agree, and now physicians have the 10 alerts, even though 90 of them might only need 2 or 3. Then we get emails saying, I'm overloaded with alerts, but by then, we have to have another meeting to modify the system, and well, cycle repeats. 10 doctors show up, and well, nothing gets done.

Regulation Room (3/5/2013 at 3:03 PM)
The federal government is updating the National Health Information Technology Strategic Plan. The Cornell e-Rulemaking Initiative (CeRI) has partnered with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to facilitate public participation in these efforts. CeRI's participation website (http://planningroom.org/) will provide a forum for understanding the goals and strategies for development of e-health records, health information exchanges and consumer health IT products. It makes it easier for a broad range of interested participants – doctors, patients, caregivers, other healthcare providers and developers – to have their say. If you have any suggestions or comments relating to the adoption of e-Health practices in the US healthcare system, please join the discussion soon when the site launches at http://planningroom.org/