How to Improve EHRs: Physicians Offer Input

For many health care providers these days, electronic health records (EHRs) are both an essential part of their modern medical practices and (when not implemented well) a source of endless frustration. Indeed, a recent American Medical Association (AMA) study found that “physicians spend nearly half their office day entering data into EHRs,” along with other administrative tasks. To that end (as Fierce Healthcare first reported), the AMA turned to a group of experts—physicians themselves—for their take on what the ideal EHR system would look like. The verdict, as spelled out in Medical Economics? There is significant room for improvement and innovation when it comes to creating EHR systems that will optimally support providers and help practices run more smoothly. As Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s Dr. Jesse Ehrenfeld told the publication: “If you were to start from scratch, you wouldn’t come up with the systems we have today.”

What, then, would an ideal system look like? Providers told the AMA that, to begin with, an EHR system should adhere to key principles when it comes to quality of care; specifically, it should “enhance physicians’ ability to provide high-quality patient care,” while also helping with the provision of team-based care and care coordination. In addition, providers pointed to areas particularly ripe for innovation. An ideal product, they explained, should, among other things, “reduce cognitive workload” and “facilitate digital and mobile patient engagement”—key at a time when many practices have expressed interest in investing in mHealth. Said Ehrenfeld, “Mobile technologies, voice recognition, imaging and sensing are all things we see in the world around us, but we don’t see that happening in the EHR space yet.”

Also essential in the design of better EHR systems is the oft-discussed interoperability. As Dr. Steven Waldren, who heads the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Center for Health IT, put it, “I hear almost every day some issue around interoperability from doctors—not having access to data, or if they get it, they get a 20-page document that the system doesn’t understand.” Beyond that, providers emphasized the importance of making systems “easier and more intuitive,” and of supporting the delivery of “high-tech” care, including telehealth and remote monitoring, among other attributes. Finally, as Waldren noted, ideal systems should be “doing more to support physicians as they practice.” Taken together, these recommendations could lead to EHRs that are more of an asset than a hindrance to a practice.

Click here for the article from Fierce Healthcare on physician suggestions for EHR improvements.

Click here for the article from Medical Economics on physician EHR suggestions.

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