EHR 'Information Overload' Can Mean Doctors Overlook Key Test Results

Researchers report that nearly 30 percent of doctors responding to a survey say they have failed to notice important test results because of the deluge of information available with electronic records.

Politico: For Doctors, Too Much Information?
A new research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday finds just that: Electronic health records may cause doctors the unintended side effect of information overload. The survey of primary-care practitioners from the Department of Veterans Affairs shows nearly one-third of those using the EHR system reported having missed or failed to follow up on key electronic alerts about patient test results (Smith, 3/5).

Medpage Today: Many Docs Miss Test Results In VA's EHR
About 30 percent of physicians in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health system participating in a survey said they had failed to notice important test results, sent via the VA's electronic records system, on at least one occasion. The survey's authors, most of whom worked in the Michael DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, blamed "information overload" related to electronic health records (EHR) systems for the findings (Gever, 3/4).

Modern Healthcare: Survey: Too Many EHR Alerts Could Lead To Missing Test Results
Researchers from several Houston institutions—including the Houston VA Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence—surveyed almost 2,600 VA primary-care practitioners from June 2010 through November 2010 regarding EHR-based alerts. Almost 30% acknowledged missing notification of test results that led to care delays, according to a research letter in the American Medical Association journal JAMA Internal Medicine (Robeznieks, 3/4).

In other IT news -

Medpage Today: If Practices Don't Change, EHRs Lose Money
The average physician lost nearly $44,000 over 5 years implementing an electronic health record system, a large pilot study found, but the technology itself was just part of the reason. Just 27 percent of practices achieved a positive 5-year return on investment -- a number that would rise to 41 percent with the addition of federal incentives to use EHRs, the study in the March issue of Health Affairs stated. But the vast majority of practices lost money because they failed to make operational changes to realize the benefits of EHRs such as ditching paper medical records after adoption, Julia Adler-Milstein, PhD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues wrote (Pittman, 3/4).

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