The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ) mission is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans.

EHR usability Gap - Specified Context of Use

The efficient and effective use of Electronic Health Records are essential, as these systems are increasingly becoming a central tool for patient care.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act provided providers with a significant financial incentive to increase the adoption and use of EHRs. EHR vendors were required to conduct and report on a summative usability evaluation of their system as part of the Stage 2 Meaningful Use program (The ONC 2014 Edition Certification) and beyond. However, a recent report funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), identified several “issues” with the certified EHR vendors in the processes, practices and use of standards and best practices with regard to usability and human factors.

Auto bumpers and HealthIT Interoperability

Ralph Nadar's book Unsafe At Any Speed raised public awareness of some of the safety problems associated with the Chevrolet Corvair.  Nadar’s book, however, was also an indictment of the auto industry as a whole and served as a lightning rod for legislation establishing what would eventually become the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

These two industries, HealthIT and automobiles have quite a lot in common including that they are both highly regulated.  These regulations exist because in both industries poor design can lead to safety issues and the possible death of their user’s.

AHRQ Issues White Paper on Health IT Best Practices in Primary Care

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released a white paper highlighting best practices for leveraging health IT in an effort to improve primary care quality, EHR Intelligence reports.

White Paper Details

The white paper highlights several tools that can improve care quality and facilitate further adoption of health IT among primary care physicians. For the paper, AHRQ gained insights from:

  • A large academic primary care facility;
  • A primary care-supporting health information exchange organization;
  • Clinicians from an independent primary care practice; and
  • Health IT experts.


In the white paper, AHRQ noted that key health IT tools for primary care providers include:

  • Electronic health record systems;
  • Clinical decision support systems;
  • HIE capabilities; and
  • Registries.

In addition, AHRQ identified four factors that contribute to effective use of health IT, including:

  • A practice culture committed to health IT;
  • High-functioning health IT tools capable of tracking;
  • A knowledgeable staff with health IT and quality improvement experience; and
  • Workflows and processes that incorporate health IT.

The white paper also included case studies to demonstrate ways providers can incorporate health IT tools into their practices (Gruessner, EHR Intelligence, 3/31).

Source: iHealthBeat, Wednesday, April 1, 2015