Many of you will remember my previous post about Patient Alert Fatigue. Managing alert fatigue with patients, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals is a really important subject. Let me offer some suggestions that will hopefully help those creating EMR and other healthcare software deal with alert fatigue.
These three simple suggestions will go along way to ensuring you don’t encounter alert fatigue: Provide Value, Meet Expectations, and Allow Customization.
Provide Value – It seems like a simple concept, but it’s extremely important. The key here is to avoid alerts that don’t provide value. The challenge is that it’s often hard to know which type of alert will provide value and which ones won’t. In the case of patients, you should probably error on the side of missing some alerts that could have provided value. In the case of doctors, you should probably error on the side of a few extra alerts that they can dismiss quickly if not appropriate.
Meet Expectations – Related to this is the impression you give the end user about the alerts. Have you created an expectation that they’ll get every alert? If that’s the case, then you better deliver on that expectation. However, if the end user realizes that the alerts won’t cover everything, then they will not depend on an alert. It’s the alert dependency that causes problems. Once someone expects an alert and you don’t deliver, you’re in deep trouble.
Allow Customization – As discussed above, each person has a different tolerance for alerts. So, allowing them to customize their alert preference is key. Plus, the next generation of digital natives are keenly aware of adjusting their alert preferences. This means that the need to be able to customize alert preferences is only going to grow. Plus, each institution has its own alert preferences as well. Over time I expect that healthcare’s alert preferences will become really sophisticated.
There’s a lot of art involved in managing alert fatigue. However, if you follow these three suggestions, you will go a long way to mastering the alert fatigue art.