May 11, 2012

Why Doctors Love To Hate Electronic Health Records

Doctors love to hate electronic health records. Over the years, many surveys have tried to pinpoint the physicians who are more likely to be satisfied by their EHRs. Surveys have found that those in primary care or Internal medicine are generally more satisfied with their EHRs than their colleagues in Oncology or Ophthalmology. Also, solo physicians were the most satisfied and that satisfaction decreased as the practice size grew to 50 physicians. Physicians in 100% productivity-based practices were more satisfied than salaried physicians. 

So what are the top reasons doctors love electronic health records?
1) An electronic record forces documentation of many steps which might be otherwise missed. More thorough documentation of clinical visits leads to less leakage of revenue.
2) In medicine, patient data is the source of all decisions. EHRs make data retrieval easier and thus quality of patient service is enhanced
3) Doctors are no longer tied to their desks and can work from anywhere anytime.

As many doctors will be quick to point out, EHR adoption also comes with a lot of pain-points.
1) There is no guaranteed improvement in productivity. In fact, there could be a loss of productivity in the short term.
2) Some EHRs are badly designed and require too many steps/ clicks for relatively simple documentation procedure, for eg. CPOE.. Sometimes, important data maybe difficult to find.
3) The omnipresent computer monitor and keyboard is not a very likeable third party in the examination room. It is an obstacle to one-to-one relationship building between doctors and patients.

Nevertheless, electronic health records are used widely and are here to stay. Insights into the reasons some EHRs are preferred over others can be an important advantage for many companies in this multi-billion-dollar industry.
You can read the original AMA article here.
Also see:
-How Poor Health IT Implementation Can Hurt Patients : Electronic health records can improve care, but doctors should also be mindful of some health IT obstacles that can be detrimental to patients.
-How To Ease EHR Frustration : EHRs can slow physicians' practices to a crawl, but evidence suggests they ultimately pay off.

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