EHR: Is It Your Biggest Strength … or Weakness?

A new survey shows the state of how medical practices view their electronic health records (EHR) system.

According to results from The Harris Poll:

  • 59 percent of the physicians surveyed think EHRs need a complete overhaul
  • 40 percent think there are more challenges than benefits

What’s more, more than half of primary care physicians believe it detracts from their professional satisfaction, contributes to longer working hours, and is the cause of professional burnout within their lives.

Clearly, there is room for improvement.

Maybe the problem is how we look at EHRs.

For most medical practices, EHR technology is seen as a way to store records. Their energy is put into creating a system that stores and secures records for the long term. And while that’s definitely part of the process, EHRs should be thought of as a clinical tool that aids in doctor/patient satisfaction.

In other words, they should be a helper, not a hindrance.

A different approach may clear some of the problems. Both the medical staff and patients want similar things.

  • They want a simple interface.
  • They want to locate the information they need quickly.
  • They want easy navigation that makes sense.
  • They want clear terminology.

The KISS (keep it simple, stupid) philosophy can and should be used when designing a proper interface.

Before you make any improvements to your system, remember that any changes will be felt from top to bottom. It’s easy to get caught up in the bells and the whistles in a sales demo, without realizing how it will impact those furthest down the chain.

Will it add more work to the office staff? Will it frustrate the nurses? The doctors? How about the patients; will they have trouble communicating with you from their remote location? And if it fixes all of these problems, will it adhere to reporting requirements?

EHR strategy isn’t as simple as making a decision at the top. To optimize your EHR process, it requires significant adjustments in all aspects of care.

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