Electronic Health Records

February 20, 2012

Ten rights and responsibilities of users identified.

Recognizing that electronic health record (EHR) adoption and use has lagged behind desired goals, two US researchers identified 10 areas that they propose are professional “rights” that EHR users require in order to optimally deliver high-quality, safe, and effective care. The researchers, Dr. Dean Sittig from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston and Dr. Hardeep Singh from the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine, created the following list of EHR features, functions, and user privileges:

  • Uninterrupted access to electronic health records
  • Ability to view all clinical information relating to their patients
  • Succinct summaries of patient health histories, including medical problems, medications, lab results and other information
  • Ability to override computer-generated clinical interventions
  • Clear, evidence-based rational for computer-generated clinical alerts or recommendations
  • Reliable performance measurement
  • Safe electronic health records
  • Training and assistance in all features of electronic health records
  • Safe, effective usable electronic health records that are compatible with actual clinical practice
  • Electronic systems that support communication and teamwork in the real world.

While the list contains desirable features and functions, it will still be challenging to overcome the issue of cost and ease of use. Another issue is the plethora of EHRs in use; rarely does one EHR system “talk to” or integrate with another brand of EHR, thus complicating the ability to transfer records and information electronically from one system to another. Until some of these basic issues are addressed, continued lags in EHR adoption can be expected.

Reference

Sittig DF, Singh H. Rights and responsibilities of users of electronic health records. CMAJ; 2012: Feb 13 [Epub ahead of print].