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EHR Usability Outshines AI as Top Health IT Priority of Healthcare Executives

| April 22, 2024 | By
Two nurses using a computer in a hospital discussing EHR usability

Between evolving regulatory requirements, staffing shortages, and costs, healthcare organizations have a full plate. The prospect of adding anything to that mix is daunting, but technology is one pain point you can’t ignore.

Of course, artificial intelligence (AI) is the hot topic on everyone’s minds. But is it the best place to focus your energy? Electronic health record (EHR) software keeps information flowing throughout your organization and may just stand above AI for now. But not just any EHR will do, either. Let’s zoom in on the value of EHR usability and why it sits on a higher rung compared to AI for health IT.

EHR Usability Challenges Healthcare Leaders Are Facing in 2024 

Is your technology helpful? Some healthcare organizations are thinking 10 steps ahead toward their digital transformation and AI to improve wait times, claims, and staff burnout. Patients themselves are pushing for digital tools, such as self-scheduling and online portals, but don’t get too distracted by “shiny objects.” Harness your EHR software to improve efficiencies and patient experiences and overcome your greatest challenges.

Interoperability Issues

Take care to align business and IT resources and ensure that your systems can talk to each other. Failing to check the interoperability box could lead to errors and inefficiencies, such as inaccurate claims pricing and processing that require downstream rework. The opposite side of the coin? Facilitating interoperability can improve pricing and claims editing and automate manual processes.

Administrative Burden

Paperwork comes with the territory to ensure patients receive quality care. The problem is that poor EHR usability could increase the administrative burden, forcing clinicians to spend too much time contending with medical records. If it takes multiple clicks and screens to navigate the system, that means less time for clinical care or overtime for data entry. Patients and practitioners deserve better.

Mitigating Burnout 

Even if you haven’t felt it yourself, burnout harms staff morale, retention, and even patient care. Clinicians have felt its sting at an alarming rate in recent years due in part to poor EHR usability.

As part of a comprehensive study on burnout, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) noted that 9 out of 10 healthcare stakeholders believe EHR implementation contributes to physician burnout. On top of this, a cross-sectional review of six studies showed a correlation between EHRs ranking higher on the usability scale and decreased physician burnout.

What Healthcare Leaders Are Prioritizing in 2024 to Solve Their Tech Challenges

Technology inspires us to take action to improve everyday processes, so what’s making healthcare leaders sit up and say, “We can make this better”? Unsurprisingly, EHR usability tops the list, according to a recent Medical Group Management Association poll. Of 424 applicable responses, 35 percent of medical group leaders said EHR usability was their top health IT priority, compared to just 13 percent favoring AI.

Organizations like yours are sick and tired of clinicians feeling sick and tired! Rates of physician burnout aren’t dropping, with a 2022 study noting numerous EHR-related causes of physician burnout, including:

  • Documentation and related tasks
  • Poor design
  • Workload
  • Overtime work
  • Inbox alerts
  • Alert fatigue

Luckily, there are ways to improve EHR usability, and organizations are dedicated to doing it right.

Enhancing Workflows and Efficiency 

“The next generation of EHRs must dramatically reduce the demand for clinician interaction.” —Mark Byers, CEO, DSS, Inc.

EHR usability needs a boost to keep clinicians moving forward, reducing their cognitive load and human error—all in service of patient care and safety. If your EHR can answer this call, you can:

  • Execute tasks with fewer clicks.
  • Streamline message management.

The same HIMSS survey mentioned earlier shows that workflow optimization (93 percent) and intuitive user design (86 percent) are must-haves for modern EHRs.

Improving Interoperability

Healthcare excellence is easier to achieve when teams can use all systems, locations, and partners to their fullest. Knowing this, modern EHR vendors such as Juno Health are incorporating interoperability standards such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources to improve data exchanges.

With this shift, organizations like yours can lean on EHR systems to:

  • Improve data sharing with physicians, facilities, and insurance companies.
  • Ensure patient privacy with secure information exchange.
  • Integrate data sources, including those tied to social determinants of health.

Leveraging Personalization 

Personalization gives you what you need because your technology is set up with your organization in mind. When healthcare providers can tailor EHR interfaces to their specific needs and preferences, EHR usability skyrockets.

A study by KLAS proved the power of personalization. In it, researchers calculated overall net EHR experience scores, finding that personalization was the top success factor for EHR satisfaction. In fact, the most satisfied users were 1.8 times more likely to be using a highly personalized EHR. When the system was designed to follow the workflows of provider specialties, users were 25 times more satisfied.

Why AI Isn’t No. 1

It’s OK to walk before you run. AI isn’t a top priority just yet because healthcare is taking its time in order to protect patient safety and data security. Until we can prove that AI will not compromise either, we need to take a measured approach.

As of 2023, 74 percent of medical groups hadn’t advanced their AI use—and just 1 in 10 medical groups used AI tools on a regular basis. While many modern EHRs utilize evidence-based clinical decision support systems to help inform clinicians, deploying AI comes with unique challenges, from integrating tools with existing EHRs to building acceptable use policies.

Future Applications

One way to dip your toes into the AI pool? By incorporating generative AI in parallel with other digital technologies as you retire legacy hardware. Gen AI is already being used to predict in-hospital mortality, length of stay, and medical claims denials—and is set to keep you growing. One day, AI may help your healthcare organization with clinical decision support, after-visit notes, answering customer calls, and more.

EHR Usability > Artificial Intelligence

For now, because of the challenges across healthcare, EHR usability is significantly more important than implementing AI. Your records systems are still the North Star to guide patient documentation and effective care. A highly personalized solution such as Juno EHR can move your organization toward digital transformation and efficiency.

Improve your EHR usability via personalization. Take our assessment to evaluate your EHR’s personalization and discover opportunities to improve.

Doctor and patient looking at patient care plan