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ONC Focused on EHR Usability

January 7, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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The Office for National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC)’s current acting chief, Jacob Reider, M.D., wrote in a blog post that the ONC is focused on improving usability for electronic health record (EHR) systems.

Reider, who will soon be replaced by Karen DeSalvo, M.D, wrote a personal blog about using an EHR since 2001 and how some of the usability challenges that were apparent then remain unresolved. He said ONC has been working with industry leaders to guide the health IT industry toward incorporating usability into EHR systems.

 Reider mentioned some of the moves ONC has made in this area including hosting three annual conferences on usability over the course of the past three years with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), holding two hearings on EHR usability in ONC’s HIT Policy Committee, commissioning an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report that outlined several guidelines for usability, and including requirements for usability in ONC’s 2014 Standard and Certification Criteria.

The acting coordinator also mentioned funding a project at the work at UT Houston to develop tools for usability evaluation, guidance for HIT developers, and examples of how complex tasks could be made easier.  He says more work in this area is on the way.

“We are working hard to both understand these issues and define an appropriate balance for the government’s role in helping evolve health IT toward better efficiency and safety through enhanced usability,” Reider wrote.


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