Health Records Innovation Saves Time and Money, Reduces Errors
Patient data found in just three mouse clicks, compared to 60 clicks with usual method
Physicians save significant time and make fewer errors when they use a new electronic health record tool created by the University of Missouri and Cerner. The corporation and MU teamed up to develop a single screen that gives physicians all the information needed to care for patients with diabetes.
Called a diabetes dashboard, the screen consolidates data about a patient's blood and urine tests, smoking status, foot and eye examinations, and other information into a single, easy-to-read display for primary care physicians. Conventional electronic health records require physicians to spend time searching through multiple screens for the same information, if they can find it at all.
"Primary care physicians see patients every 15 minutes. If we can use the dashboard to save physicians almost five minutes with each patient who has diabetes, that's a significant savings in time and costs," said Richelle Koopman, MD, an associate professor of family and community medicine at MU and a lead researcher of the dashboard. "Physicians can then use the time saved to do more important things, such as talk more with their patients about medications, diet and exercise."
Koopman and her colleagues at MU have published their dashboard research in the Annals of Family Medicine. Their study revealed that the dashboard saved physicians an average of 4.2 minutes per patient, and physicians only needed to use an average of three mouse clicks to find data. Physicians using conventional search methods used an average of 60 clicks trying to find the same information.
Physicians in the study who didn't use the dashboard couldn't always find the information they needed in the electronic health record. If physicians can't find information, they could ask patients to repeat costly tests and examinations.
Physicians who didn't use the dashboard also sometimes identified incorrect data from the electronic health record. In comparison, physicians using the dashboard always found and recorded the correct data.
The diabetes dashboard is currently used at MU clinics, and similar dashboards for such common health problems as high blood pressure, asthma and high cholesterol also are in use at the university.
MU and Cerner, the world's leading supplier of health information technology, have been developing the dashboard since 2007. In 2009, they formalized their partnership by creating the Tiger Institute for Health Innovation, which helps clinicians and technology experts discover ways to improve patient care.
"An important aspect of the dashboard is that it was developed with significant input from physicians, which makes it a really good example of user-centered design," Koopman said. "A lot of times when you implement new things in the electronic health record, there's a substantial amount of training and a big learning curve for physicians and other users. The dashboard is so user-friendly that no training is required.
"Physicians in our study enthusiastically and immediately embraced the new dashboard," Koopman said. "One of their best comments was 'this is exactly what we need.' "
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