The rollout of EHRs was welcomed by all entities across the healthcare industry, including medical record retrieval companies. Easy retrieval, accurate documentation, and improved quality of healthcare are among the beneficial features that distinguish the electronic health record. Physicians adopted this new documentation system eagerly partly due to the financial incentives involved and partly due to the penalties for non-adoption. Unfortunately, everything has not been smooth sailing for the physicians. Many of them feel it has increased their documentation burden and takes away quality time with patients. Many studies highlight the fact that EHR use has contributed to physician burnout.
- Many necessary parameters such as flexibility, customizability, workflows similar to physicians’ paper-based processes and clinical communications, intuitiveness, easy-to-use interface and functionality, adaptability to mobile devices and so on have not been met in the EHR systems available now, according to a Mayo Clinic physician survey.
- A Rand Health study inferred that problems with EHR technology such as poor usability, interference with face-to-face patient care, inefficient and less fulfilling work content, inability to exchange health information, and degradation of clinical documentation have significantly worsened professional satisfaction and created fissures in the patient/physician relationship, and are major reasons for physician burnout.
Thus, EHRs are a major cause of stress and a real problem for physicians. This can lead to loss of revenue, reduced patient care and reduced patient safety. However, since the electronic health record is here to stay, physicians must find ways in which they can reduce EHR-related stress and optimize their use. Here are some thoughts on this issue.
- Physicians can preserve and customize traditional clinical workflows to some extent by utilizing EHR-integrated medical transcription service or EHR-integrated speech recognition software. This will help with faster documentation.
- Invest time and money in adequate EHR training. This will help to have a clear understanding of the way your EHR system works and how it fits into your workflow.
- Consider appointing an EHR expert in your office who is tech savvy and knows the ins and outs of your electronic health record system. This person will be readily available in case you face any difficulty.
- Preview your patients’ electronic records the day or night before office hours. You can make some notes that will prove helpful during the consultation. When you are more prepared for the patient visit, your stress levels naturally drop, and you don’t have to look at the computer screen during the patient encounter. Your patients will be happy because they are getting your full attention.
- Allot sufficient time for the nurse/medical assistant to enter allergies, vital signs, medications, and review of systems before you go into the room. This will help save time
- Have the medical assistant update the patient’s active problem because it can ensure better patient care and work flow. It is important that problems that are resolved do not remain on the list and create confusion and even clinical mistakes.
- Customize your EHR so that it becomes intuitive for your specific practice’s processes. Your dashboards can be set up in a way that your used modules are available at your fingertips. Ensure that all users have access to the features they need so that the practice workload is distributed correctly and your processes run smoothly. This can be achieved by working with your vendor. You can choose to customize templates and even go for more personalization via artificial intelligence (AI).
- Consider cloud-based EHR that is capable of learning a physician’s location and practice and then populating the EHR with the contact information of common referral physicians and connecting to payer-approved outpatient lab and imaging facilities of electronic ordering of tests. These cloud-based systems can also customize the EHR system to accommodate specific specialties and use data derived from EHR for tasks such as population health management.
- Consider using EHRs with AI or artificial intelligence capability. AI can help in CDS or clinical decision support with features such as the following:
- Clinical guidelines
- Computerized alerts and reminders for providers and patients
- Documentation templates
- Condition-specific order sets
- Focused patient data reports and summaries
- Diagnostic support
- Contextually relevant reference information.
An efficient EHR system should facilitate medical review solutions such as medical record review and make the documentation process simpler. The above EHR tips should help physicians own and implement a beneficial electronic health record system that will reduce their stress and enhance efficiency and quality of patient care through improved provider/patient communication and safer, more reliable prescribing. A good EHR system should provide accurate, updated information about patients and enable coordinated care. By investing sufficient time and attention during the implementation process, physicians could ensure that their EHR system is customized to meet their needs and thereby make their professional life easier.