EMR – Denial Not an Answer

There is a lot happening in the healthcare sector today. The government is aiming to redefine healthcare with the help of ACOs and performance based compensation methods. Physicians are getting edgy about the meaningful use stage 2 objectives that their current EMRs may not posses. Recent EMR surveys and studies are producing variable results. Some display significant post-implementation gains while others show distressing productivity losses.

It’s a mess! The healthcare system is going through a transformation and such transformational phases are often complicated. With that said, the question here is whether one believes in the healthcare reform or not. If one believes in the healthcare reform, then it is easier to accept the change and adapt accordingly. However, if the answer is no then one probably shouldn’t vote for Obama in the upcoming elections.

Every change takes time. When hospitals first started record keeping, was it organized? No. Was it efficient? No. But was it necessary? Yes. The paper based system that physicians have perfected and feel comfortable with is likely to have received a similar response when it was mandated. Nobody likes to be told what to do. On the other hand, when it becomes common practice in the industry, it ceases to be a major concern.

EMR documentation is likely to be cumbersome in the initial stages as physicians familiarize themselves with the new system. What most physicians have a problem with is standardized data entry. Although most EMRs can be customized to suit user preferences, physicians tend to associate electronic medical documentation with clerical workload. However, the modern EHRs facilitate evidence based practice methods and adhere to industry best practices.

Physicians have been able to improve documentation time with regular use, familiarization and training. Practices have also been able to optimize administrative workflows and operations through continuous assessment and planning. Patient Portals let patients update basic clinical, administrative and financial information without leaving their home or visiting the doctor’s office. This saves valuable time and enhances productivity whilst minimizing the possibility of human error. These patient portals also maintain a connection between physicians and their patients, which allows simplified synchronization of information and health management.

General opinion suggests that EMR systems with voice recognition further expedite the process of clinical documentation for physicians while an optional transcription service makes the process nearly effortless. However, physicians using transcription and dictation often describe them as costly and inefficient while various surveys indicate reduced quality of clinical outcomes for these physicians.

To conclude, denial is not a solution. EMR adoption is a choice right now and not a compulsion but the future may dictate otherwise. Physicians often choose to push back EMR implementation and hope to join the race when the usage of such systems is no longer a choice. However, physicians already embarking on this journey will be accustomed to improved clinical outcomes and care quality through the use of EMRs. Only physicians know the answers to these questions and while some may continue to resist adoption, there is no denying that EMRs are a pathway to the future.


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