Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Those Annoying EHR Pop-Up Windows

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Those Annoying EHR Pop-Up Windows

Article excerpt

In 1986, the United States and Canada mandated the adoption of a center brake light on all new cars. Studies had shown that this was better at getting attention than the two side lights alone, and reduced collisions.

Of course, as the years went by, the safety benefit gradually faded. It never returned to the previous level, but clearly, as people got used to it, the new light faded into the background of their attention.

Today, we have electronic health record (EHR) systems that use all kinds of pop-up warnings to check a million things. I'm sure the attorneys love them. ("Doctor, since the computer clearly warned you about this, why did you click 'ignore' and move on?")

I don't use one of those systems, but I talk to plenty of doctors who do. Initially, it was interesting and got their attention, then became annoying. Each pop-up window interrupted the chain of thought, distracting them from the task at hand: patient care. As time went on, they just began ignoring them. It's easier to click "cancel" than it is to have to think through something you've probably already considered.

So, like the center brake light, the well-intentioned pop-up window is ignored and pushed to the far side of your attention span. …

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