Before YouTube and virality were part of one’s everyday lexicon, a video of an enraged employee smashing his computer to bits from his cubicle made the online rounds. You can view the video here.
I’m sure we can all relate to that kind of frustration. Considering the state of the electronic health market – clunky client-server systems and poor usability, in many cases – you can’t blame a physician for wanting to similarly act out.
Below we outline why your EHR may be frustrating you, and what you can do to quell those feelings.
Why is your EHR so frustrating?
While it may sound dramatic, a frustrating EHR reduces your quality of life. The government is pushing implementation, and in many cases, the system you choose is either incomplete or very user-unfriendly.
So why are vendors, journalists, legislators and other health IT evangelists touting the electronic health record as the remedy for healthcare’s ailments?
It’s largely because, in theory, EHRs seem like the solution to excess paper usage, poor medical practice administration and greater patient engagement. However, most systems have yet to be perfected, so adapting to your new EHR sometimes takes longer than you’ve bargained for.
Electronic health records take a long time to learn. Their functionality isn’t always clear-cut and areas of the system may not work as smoothly as others. Or you may find your EHR is too heavy on clicks for your liking.
The resulting loss of productivity and long training times stem from deeper causes, however, and your EHR may not entirely be at fault. As a physician, you’re completing complex tasks in a fast-paced and dynamic work environment, using an intricate and not yet entirely usable system.
User-centered design will become the gold standard for EHRs. We’re not the first people to say this, and it’s not as if programmers aren’t picking up on the need for usability in health IT.
But it’s also time to welcome programmers into your office so they can observe you. Or you can serve as a consultant at a health IT startup if you’re looking for a career change.
How you can ease EHR frustration?
Despite the doom and gloom, electronic health record systems are improving. Vendors are tuning up functionality, programmers are moving away from MUMPS, and most systems have basic business intelligence capabilities to help healthcare providers collect the data they need for Meaningful Use attestation.
In order to keep you and other physicians from decrying the current state of EHRs, we need to figure out how to quell your dissatisfaction, namely around complaints of decreased productivity.
It first begins with understanding the state of the market. Before choosing whether or not to go paperless, research the health IT field and where electronic health records are going. To gain greater insight, download documents like our free white paper, “The End of EMR.”
Next, if programmers are getting over their usability hump, then doctors will also surpass their own learning curve. One UC Davis School of Management study recorded the productivity of 100 or so pediatricians, internists and family practitioners after having implemented EHRs.
So there’s hope, particularly when you need your system to efficiently display stored data to help you reach diagnoses. If your practice relies more on data entry and documentation, then be patient. Electronic health records are improving almost daily, and the kind of usability you envision will become a reality soon enough.
But its not just understanding and patience that will help you ease frustration. Buying habits come into play here. When searching for an electronic health record system, find vendors that understand your specialty and check to see if their products will cater to your needs.
In some cases, it may even be advisable to search for a specialty-specific template. And since some physicians often complain about poor vendor support after they implement an EHR system, ensure the vendor you choose gets you and your staff involved at the beginning of the electronic health record planning process.
Are you frustrated with your EHR? What do you do to try and ease that frustration?
Much of the frustration with your electronic health record begins at the purchasing process. Check out our EHR Buying Guide to help keep you calm and answer your most pressing questions!Tweet