EHRs found severely underperforming—or worse

A three-month joint investigation by Kaiser Health News and Fortune magazine has painted a disturbing picture of the state of electronic health records across the United States. The reporters spoke with more than 100 sources and found EHRs not only falling far short of their announced aims but also, in some cases, doing considerable harm.

The piece names vendors and relays anecdotes. One is the case of a 5-year-old whose treatment for an injured finger led to permanent brain damage and a legal case that turned up apparent EHR tampering as a hospital allegedly sought to cover its tracks.

In another case, none other than CMS administrator Seema Verma found herself frustrated after her husband was discharged with a CD that contained his medical images but lacked important info from tests and monitoring equipment.

The reporters, Fred Schulte of KHN and Erika Fry of Fortune, also spoke with the author of a 2018 Health Affairs study showing around 1 in five 5 of more than 3,200 errors at children’s hospitals owed, at least in part, to EHR “usability” issues.

“Poor interface design and poor implementations can lead to errors and sometimes death, and that is just unbelievably bad as well as completely fixable,” the study’s lead author told them. “We should not have patients harmed this way.”

Schulte and Fry noted their investigation wrapped 10 years and $36 billion into the life of the HITECH Act, enacted in 2009 to expand the adoption of health information technology.

Read the whole thing: