EMR Software Alerts/Pop-Ups: Good and Bad

The biggest benefit of technology for providers is that EMR software can have automated Alerts. The biggest negative of technology for providers is that EMR software can have automated Alerts.

It will not forget. Software remembers, and therefore lets the provider know when something is due, something needs to be done, something needs to be taken care of.

On the other hand, it can be a nagging 'spouse' that reaches a point of 'diminishing returns'. Initially, it fees good that the software alerts you of things that need to be taken care of. Pretty soon, you get into a mode of - I know I know, and impulsively click on the 'x' button to cancel the alert.

I remember when I wanted to start exercising. So, I put an reminder on my smart-phone calendar. At the set time, it alerted. First day, I 'x'ed it - "not today, I'll start tomorrow". This went on for 3 days. Then, I actually exercised for 2 days. Weekend arrived, I got up late, I did not see the alert. Next week, I instinctively just canceled the alert every time. After 3 weeks, I just removed it from my calendar.

What is interesting however, is that after one month of this trial and tribulation, I started exercising without an alert reminding me what to do.

There's a similar story in here for Alerts/Pop-Up reminders in EMR software.

It is about following a proper work-flow in your practice. There are so many places where you have a choice of asking the EMR software to alert you, or internalizing and training properly to follow a workflow.

In a paper based environment, you get things done, but there are no alerts popping up. I understand the argument that in a paper based environment, you may miss things, something can fall through the cracks. By implementing technology and proper software, you can plug these holes and cracks. But you don't need pop-up alerts, you just need a good workflow.

Some of the most efficient practices I have seen have mastered the process, workflow and discipline using EMR software. These practices do not allow pop-up alerts, because it slows them down, distracts them from doing what they need to do and from being efficient.

Next time you see an EMR software system that has a lot of alert pop-ups, be wary. At first glance, it looks impressive, but do this everyday, an Alert Fatigue will set in.