How to Avoid EHR Alert Fatigue

Answer the following questions honestly. Do you get EHR alerts while charting and:

  1. Not pay attention?
  2. Ignore even those marked “Important?”
  3. Delete more alerts than you read?
  4. Think: “I would rather talk to the IRS than see another alert.”?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, you have EHR ALERT FATIGUE.
A recent study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine revealed that 99% of opioid alerts failed to prevent an adverse drug reaction and highlighted the necessity to eliminate meaningless alerts.
Desperate female doctor at computer This is what to look for in your next EHR system:
EHR system alerts can be enabled, disabled, or customized based on preference. Investing just a few moments now can save you time and irritation, improve patient care and experience, and highlight important, actionable events like drug interactions and decision support. Check out our tips for:

  1. Improving Patient Throughput: Set up an alert for patients who have been in the department for a “long” time (as defined by your clinic) to serve as a warning for patients who may be growing dissatisfied with the speed of care. You should also be able to define individual alerts for orders and status.
  1. Ensuring Continuity of Care: Use the online referral function to create an alert for a patient when he or she arrives. Flag whether the patient is affiliated with PCP groups or ACOs.
  1. Knowing Your Clinical Alerts: Check out the precaution flags on the dashboard — the chief complaint should be color-coded by acuity so you notice when a high-acuity patient arrives.
  1. Optimizing Order Entry and Prescription Writing: Performs drug-drug interaction checking!
  1. Defining a Clinical Pathway: Once you define your site criteria (i.e. chief complaint, vital signs, lab orders), the EHR should trigger a clinical pathway that provides guidance on the preferred standard of care for patients meeting those criteria.
  1. Turning off Immunization Reminders: You can check “already taken care of ” or “declined by patient” so these reminders will stop popping up.

The bottom line: make the system work for you now and we promise your EHR ALERT FATIGUE will fade fast.

Need Help Selecting Your Next System?  Just click the little green message box below right and talk to me.

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