Can You Be Patient With Your EHR?
Every week or two it seems some new study reinforces the notion that physicians are having an awfully tough time with EHRs. Completing documentation and placing orders takes longer on the computer; the screen distracts clinicians from the patient sitting in front of them; system training takes time away from patient care.
All legitimate complaints. So what is a physician – or a hospital administrator, CIO or CMO, for that matter – to do?
One Forbes commentator urges patience. In a post this week, Ron Smythe acknowledges that, to date, only “a small number of [provider] organizations, namely those that have been in the EHR game for much longer periods of time, have realized improvements in clinical work flow and productivity using these tools.” But he likens EHRs to other “general purpose technologies” – electricity, the computer – that took decades to hit their stride and produce dramatic, wide-ranging changes (and benefits) across industry and society. Smythe suggests we withhold final judgment about EHRs because “we do not [yet] fully grasp what the new context in health care will be, or what exploring this particular frontier will demonstrate.”
While patience is a virtue, so too is self-reliance – which is why we’re seeing a growing number of community hospitals taking it upon themselves to optimize their EHRs to deliver a better physician user experience now. There may indeed be a very gradual transformation in healthcare delivery and patient care brought about by EHR adoption; but when it comes to helping physicians interact more productively and intuitively with medical records systems, there’s no time like the present.