(HealthDay News) – Primary care practitioners (PCPs) using electronic health records (EHRs) are susceptible to information overload and feel that the EHR notification system makes it possible to miss test results, according to a research letter published online March 4 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Hardeep Singh, MD, MPH, from the Houston VA Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional survey of 2,590 VA PCPs to assess the sociotechnical predictors of missed test results in the setting of EHR-based alerts.

The researchers found that PCPs reported receiving a median of 63 alerts each day. Most (86.9%) felt this quantity was excessive, and 69.6% reported getting more alerts than they could manage effectively (information overload). More than half of PCPs reported that the current EHR notification system made it possible for test results to be missed, and 29.8% reported having missed results that resulted in care delays. Perceived ease of EHR use correlated with reduced likelihood of the perception of potentially missing results and of reporting missed results, while the likelihood of these outcomes was increased with greater concern over electronic hand-offs. PCPs who reported information overload were significantly more likely to report having missed results.

“Our findings suggest that missed results in EHRs might be related to information overload from alert notifications, electronic hand-offs in care, and practitioner perceptions of poor EHR usability,” the authors write. “Interventions to improve safety of test result follow-up in EHRs must address these factors.”

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