We live in a world where we’re constantly bombarded with information, so remembering everything is virtually impossible. There is a limited amount of information we can manage in our brains, and that’s where technology comes in: to store that information for us and remind us what we need to know when we need to know it.
Everyone who owns a smartphone probably gets several alerts a week reminding them of an appointment, a birthday, a deadline. And sometimes, if they get too many on a busy day, yes, they ignore some of them.
This can happen in the healthcare industry too. In fact, it has its own name: alert fatigue.
Many EHR and practice management programs include alert systems that healthcare specialists can set up in order to get pop-up notifications on their screens when they view a patient’s profile. These messages can go from alerting them about a patient’s drug allergy to other less critical reminders like “drug should be taken with food.”
When alerts are so constant and so diverse in terms of relevance, it’s easier for doctors to stop paying attention to them.
A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association found that doctors ignore alerts between 49 to 96 percent of the cases, which can be a serious risk factor for patient safety.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has these suggestions to prevent alert fatigue among healthcare specialists:
By following these simple steps you reduce the chances of alert fatigue and ensure the practice isn’t missing any critical alerts that might affect the patients’ health.