Electronic medical records are expected to improve quality care and care co-ordination, while also facilitating care provision across various healthcare facilities. A fully functional and useful EHR system is expected to provide updated working information regarding a patient. However, the EMR systems available at present are not completely able to rise up to the challenge of efficiently documenting healthcare details. Moreover, a foolproof system is also vital when viewed from the point of view of medical record review requirements. Amidst complaints of EMR systems being poorly designed, cumbersome and distractive, the AMA (American Medical Association) has called for a major revamping of EMR systems to accommodate the needs of better usability and high-quality patient care.
Many EMR vendors are consolidating to serve the huge number of providers and payers. A survey released by the nonprofit Physicians Foundation reveals that though around 85% of physicians use electronic medical record systems, only 24% say that they increased efficiency while 47% complain that these systems detract from patient care. Doctors would like to continue with electronic records but are deterred by the shortcomings. They would also prefer the digital record system to reduce the time they have to spend on data entry, and enable them to have more time for patients.
The Meaningful Use program had made many physicians and hospitals to rush to adopt EMR systems, and as of January 1, 2014 more than $ 19 billion have been paid as incentives to 347,000 eligible hospitals and healthcare professionals. However, only a mere 10% of eligible providers are ready for the next stricter round of MU requirements. Hospitals and doctors that have not yet adopted EMR are going to face Medicare reimbursement cuts starting next year.
An important thing to note is that healthcare providers differ in their taste for EMR systems. The system or feature that one entity favors may meet with the disapproval of another, which makes the design of an ideal EMR system highly challenging. While usability is an important priority with regard to any electronic health record system, training procedures and office workflow affect usability.
Hospitals and physicians are now trying different ways to rise up to the challenges of meeting Meaningful Use requirements. A significant option is to hire an external provider to help with the data entry. Other providers are considering changing the layout of their examination rooms in a way that doctors will not have to turn their backs on patients while entering data into the EMR system.