Background: When users of electronic medical records (EMRs) are presented with large numbers of irrelevant computerized alerts, they experience alert fatigue, begin to ignore alert information, and override alerts without processing or heeding alert recommendations. Anecdotally, doctors at our study site were dissatisfied with the medication-related alerts being generated, both in terms of volume being experienced and clinical relevance. Objective: This study aimed to involve end users in the redesign of medication-related alerts in a hospital EMR, 4 years post implementation. Methods: This work was undertaken at a private not-for-profit teaching hospital in Sydney, Australia. Since EMR implementation in 2015, the organization elected to implement all medication-related alert types available in the system for prescribers: allergy and intolerance alerts, therapeutic duplication alerts, pregnancy alerts, and drug-drug interaction alerts. The EMR included no medication administration alerts for nurses. To obtain feedback on current alerts and suggestions for redesign, a Web-based survey was distributed to all doctors and nurses at the site via hospital mailing lists. Results: Despite a general dissatisfaction with alerts, very few end users completed the survey. In total, only 3.37% (36/1066) of doctors and 14.5% (60/411) of nurses took part. Approximately 90% (30/33) of doctors who responded held the view that too many alerts were triggered in the EMR. Doctors suggested that most alerts be removed and that alerts be more specific and less sensitive. In contrast, 97% (58/60) of the nurse respondents indicated that they would like to receive medication administration alerts in the EMR. Most nurses indicated that they would like to receive all the alert types available at all severity levels. Conclusions: Attempting to engage with end users several years post implementation was challenging. Involving users so late in the implementation process may lead to clinicians viewing the provision of feedback to be futile. Seeking user feedback on usefulness, volume, and design of alerts is extremely valuable; however, we suggest this is undertaken early, preferably before system implementation.
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- alert fatigue
- clinical decision support
- hospital information systems
- medication alert systems