EMR – The Great Expectations

The EMR technology has come a long way since its inception. Starting as a simple tool for recording information, EMRs today assist physicians through decision support systems. EMRs are increasingly becoming an integral component of the healthcare system in the US. The adoption rates have doubled during 2008-2011. However, this increase is still short of the expectations of industry experts.

As the world of technology evolves around us, expectations from an EMR continue to grow. “Most physicians today want a system that is easy to use and makes documentation quick.” says a health IT executive. “Physicians never liked documentation, even when it was on paper. But now with EMRs, they expect that computers will do most of the job as they interact with patients.” quoted another.

Technology makes our lives more convenient and EMR serves this purpose for the healthcare community by expediting clinical workflows and seamless exchange of information. Research has shown that physicians have been able to save up to 30 minutes per day with EMR for documentation. However, some physicians insist that EMRs should offer even greater value.

According to a recent study by the HSC, the expectations of the healthcare policy makers on improved coordination of patient care through EMR and the actual experiences of clinicians are quite different. The study available at the Journal of General Internal Medicine indicates that EMR interoperability is not well developed for interaction between physicians across different practices.

Physicians believe that it would be difficult to meet the proposed meaningful use stage 2 objectives with the current capabilities of their EMR solutions. ONC is also planning to release new certification criteria once the final rule is out. Established EMR vendors are already working on their interoperability extensively to comply with the proposed regulations and remain competitive.

EMR solutions will continue to evolve over time. However until a time that an EMR solution satisfies the requirements of each and every physician, is it really wise for physicians to dismiss the advantages of an EMR solution? EMRs have been proven to optimize practice workflow and reduce overheads but physicians and other end users will have to meet their respective EMR systems halfway to reap the true benefits of EMR technology.