Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Improving Pediatric EHRs

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a guide to help improve the design of EHRs for pediatric patients so that the focus is on users, doctors, nurses, and other clinicians who treat children.

While hospitals and medical practices are accelerating their adoption of EHRs, these systems are not always ideal to help support children’s healthcare needs. Young patients’ physiology is different from adults and varies widely over the course of their growing years. Tasks that are routine in larger bodies can be complex in smaller ones, and also, pediatric patients typically cannot communicate as fully as adults.

These challenges can create additional physical and mental demands on the professionals who treat children and affect the way they interact with an EHR. This makes the selection and arrangement of information displays, definition of “normal” ranges and thresholds for alerts in pediatric EHRs more challenging to design and implement than those created for adults.

The new NIST guide was developed with help from experts in pediatrics, human factors engineering, usability, and informatics. The guide was peer-reviewed by human factor experts and clinicians as well as other professionals in leading pediatric healthcare organizations in the U.S. and Canada.

“A Human Factors Guide to Enhance EHR Usability of Critical User Interactions when Supporting Pediatric Patient Care” (NISTIR 7865) is now available at www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=911520.