Electronic patient records: just eight minutes could make a difference to how you work
03 September, 2021
As a psychiatrist and former Clinical Chief Information Officer, I’m probably a little bit biased about how technology supports good healthcare. But when I say that sparing us just eight minutes today could transform your working life, I really mean it.
That’s roughly how long it takes to complete a new usability survey launched by NHSX which is looking at clinicians’ experience of using electronic patient records (EPR) systems. And it’s our mission to use this body of research to transform the way EPRs support you in your work.
In theory, everyone knows how important these systems should be as a way of enabling safe, effective, joined-up care. In practice, many of us also know they can be slow and cumbersome –draining the spirit one key-stroke at a time.
This is a chance to change that for good. The truth is we’ve struggled historically to gather a robust evidence base answering the fundamental 'what' and 'how' questions: what EPR systems work best, and how do we get the most out of them.
This research will, for the first time, give us the full picture of how user experience varies in different settings across the country. And crucially, we’re starting with mental health because this is where we know we can make a big difference.
The evidence we gather will be important on two fronts. For individual organisations, it will give a rich source of user feedback to help them improve systems locally. At a national level, it will help NHSX to challenge EPR providers to do better.
Furthermore, the survey has been developed in partnership with a renowned international research agency called KLAS – which has surveyed more than 200,000 clinicians in 250 health organisations about their EPR experience.
What’s emerged from this is a set of proven indicators that characterise what makes an EPR successful within an organisation. By replicating KLAS’s international research across the country, this means we can draw upon a proven evidence base showing how to improve user experience.
And that can be incredibly powerful for delivering real change, as it helps organisations to pinpoint and address their areas of weakness, based on a proven methodology and science.
But to make it happen, we need clinicians to be with us on this journey - we need enough of you to spare those eight minutes and provide honesty and candour in sharing your experiences of using the electronic patient record system where you work.
It’s an incredibly busy period for everyone in the NHS I know, and a few minutes between tasks can be a precious commodity when lists are bulging and time is so short. As a clinician myself, I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think this small investment of time would make a difference.
But the fact is that data and insight are the foundations for improvement. If you take the survey now, you’ll put us on a sound footing to transform EPR technology for the future. And the impact this will have on your working life, I promise, could be very significant indeed.