Even though many practitioners have implemented EHRs in their practices, the system is still not perfect as a study published in the March 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Assn. goes on to show. The study showed that many physicians who were already using an EHR system were reverting to paper to complete specific tasks. The research was conducted on 11 primary care practices that were part of three larger healthcare organizations. Ten of eleven paper-based workarounds identified in earlier studies were being utilized by the doctors because that was the only way they could get certain tasks done within the required time. Efficiency, memory and awareness were the three main qualities that persuaded these physicians to go back to the paper records. What is interesting is that each of the organizations already had a customized, in-house designed EHR system they were using for many years. The EHR systems were different with different organizations, but the workarounds were the same at all the eleven sites.
Ease of Use and Efficient Workflow – Major Concerns in EHR Design
This is really disheartening to EHR vendors since the primary purpose of electronic health records is to make charting, storing and retrieving patient records easier and more efficient. Obviously, most of the EHR systems available in the market now fail to meet the touted capabilities. Another reason could be that providers may not be proficient in using the particular electronic health record system. Text entry boxes, sub menus, drop down menus and such other software designs may be too intimidating to users and therefore prove to be inefficient. Practitioners may find themselves severely restrained, patient volumes may decrease and consequently lead to loss in revenue.
The need of the day therefore is a provider-friendly, patient-friendly EHR system that would be familiar to the physicians and easy to learn. It should also meet all requirements for Meaningful Use incentive payments and Medicare/Medicaid compliance, held mandatory by the government. Ideally, the system should be sensitive to the particular needs of an organization and ensure highly efficient workflow.