There is always a risk of trusting either too much or too little in the product when working with cutting edge technology. While it is never a good idea for people to constantly second-guess their tools, it is important that they use them with critical detachment. Using an EHR system and simply following its instructions are not the same thing. If a practice has, for example, integrated its EHR system with a medication disbursement system, it is important that nurses and physicians double check the instructions. No system is perfect, and errors or hiccups  will need to be flagged occasionally. With a watchful eye, an electronic health record system can greatly increase the quality of patient care. It just requires that those interacting with the technology are able to use it skillfully.

Train to trust
Alarm fatigue is by far one of the worst problems affecting most health care technology. If 90 percent of a unit's alerts are medically insignificant, it poses a great risk that one day a significant alert will be ignored. In order to combat this, quality training is a must. Having at least one or two people on a team that understand the system inside and out will make it easier for everyone to make full use of it. Just one person who can change the rate at which alarms are triggered, or enable better notifications for specific patients, will support other staff in making full use of the software. These "super users" can either be those who are naturally technically inclined or those that simply want to know the system well. 

The other side of working with alarm fatigue is enabling better alarms within an EHR system. Letting physicians control the types of alarms they receive so that they only get those that are pertinent to the patient they are working with can reduce alarm fatigue drastically. Of course, going too far in the opposite direction can have negative consequences as well. If physicians place too much faith in their EHR systems, they may count on the software to catch mistakes for them. That isn't the role of any bookkeeping equipment – clinical staff needs to be able to make their own decisions and independently verify recommendations from medical software. Make sure that all medical personnel understand that they are still required to make the final call in order to prevent errors in diagnosis or treatment.

Get people powered
While many doctors enjoy the power that EHRs give them to record and review large amounts of data, some also feel that they slow productivity. Hiring a medical scribe to work with a practice may be just what physicians need to keep moving at a speedy clip. Most doctors are used t manually filling out forms and information could feel like an unusually slow, desperately inefficient process compared to what doctors are used to. Even designating an aide to work with electronic systems while a doctor is interacting with a patient can take a lot of the complaint that physicians can have about the depersonalizing aspect of EHRs out of the picture.

Using an EHR well can provide a practice with faster service and better care all around. It is exceedingly important that these systems are attended to with the right amount of care. Blindly following instructions or ignoring alarms out of hand can result in disastrous consequences. By making the effort to learn how the system works, it will be possible for physicians and non-clinical staff to master the system fairly easily.