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

Chelsea Rice, 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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