Reducing and Sustaining Duplicate Medical Record Creation by Usability Testing and System Redesign

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Abstract

Objectives

Duplicate medical record creation is a common and consequential health care systems error often caused by poor search system usability and inappropriate user training.

Methods

We conducted two phases of scenario-based usability testing with patient registrars working in areas at risk of generating duplicate medical records. Phase 1 evaluated the existing search system, which led to system redesigns. Phase 2 tested the redesigned system to mitigate potential errors before health system-wide implementation. To evaluate system effectiveness, we compared the monthly potential duplicate medical record rates for preimplementation and postimplementation months.

Results

The existing system could not effectively handle a misspelling, which led to failed search and duplicate medical record creation. Using the existing system, 96% of registrars found commonly spelled patient names whereas only 69% successfully found complicated names. Registrars lacked knowledge and usage of a phonetic matching function to assist in misspelling. The new system consistently captured the correct patient regardless of misspelling, but search returned more potential matches, resulting in, on average, 4 seconds longer to select common names. Potential monthly duplicate medical record rate reduced by 38%, from 4% to 2.3% after implementation of the new system, and has sustained at an average of 2.5% for 2 years.

Conclusions

Usability testing was an effective method to reveal problems and aid system redesign to deliver a more user friendly system, hence reducing the potential for medical record duplication. Greater standards for usability would ensure that these improvements can be realized before rather than after exposing patients to risks.

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