In recent years, EMR has taken the healthcare industry by storm. While some of us choose to blame the industry and EMR vendors for placing technology between a doctor and his patient, the government’s relentless promotion of EMR adoption is the main cause for the surge in new vendors joining the race. While the EMR does aim to improve care quality, it replaces a system acquired and used by generations of doctors and administrators.
We have seen countless industries automate and shift to electronic databases and workflows. Having witnessed them achieves more productivity whilst utilizing such systems, there is still doubt and reluctance when talking about EMR implementation. Healthcare is a very intricate profession; your experience and your knowledge are usually your only tools. However, as your subject is a human being, there is need for greater accountability. While doctors have followed federal reporting standards for decades, EMR further enhances this process through built-in checks and reporting presets, ensuring effective compliance and highest quality care delivery.
Every practice has its own unique workflow and information requirements. Hence, usability is arguably the most essential element for physicians and administrative users alike. EMR adoption in the US has mostly suffered due to the general misconception and fear of the system complexity. While EMR solutions have come a long way in providing user friendly systems, most lack the ability to replicate an established workflow, thus requiring users to significantly change the way they work.
Many practices feel the need for their EMR system to adapt to their existing workflows in order for them to attain any benefits it may offer. This often leads to dissatisfaction and frustration, as after implementation users are required to alter their existing workflows to accommodate the system. While established vendors in the market have been focusing specifically on usability and end user customization, most recent and upcoming EMR systems are being developed with limited budgets, hence usability is often overlooked.
Ideally EMR vendors should recognize the balance between functionality and ease of use. However being a technology driven industry, the vendor focus tends to shift toward adding extensive functionality and unique features distinguishing the product from competition. While it works for some healthcare organizations, others find it unnecessary, cumbersome and even distracting.
An EMR should help providers improve their practice productivity and quality of care delivery. An inflexible system with limited customization can negatively affect practice productivity instead of enhancing it. Many physicians already feel that EMR systems are over-rated and the actual benefits are seldom derived. An effective EMR system is one that provides functionality without altering the practice workflow and allowing greater end user customization.