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February 4, 2019

A Decade of Health Information Technology Usability Challenges and the Path Forward

Author Affiliations
  • 1National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, MedStar Health, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC
  • 2Alliance for Better Health, Albany Medical College, Albany, New York
  • 3Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety, Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
JAMA. 2019;321(8):743-744. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.0161

The 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act successfully promoted the adoption of health information technology (HIT), specifically electronic health records (EHRs). The majority of US hospitals and ambulatory clinicians have adopted an EHR and some benefits, such as easier access to patient information and the ability to more easily order certain medications, laboratory tests, and diagnostic tests, have materialized. However, usability—defined as the extent to which technology can be used efficiently, effectively, and satisfactorily—remains suboptimal.1 Usability challenges in the last decade have had unintended consequences. Poor EHR usability contributes to errors that are associated with patient harm.2 It also results in clinicians spending extra time using the EHR, contributing to clinician frustration, which, in turn, has been reported to jeopardize patient safety.3

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