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What to end users think about EHR systems?


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you probably know that EHRs and their adoption is a topic of hot debate, thanks to their usability and effectiveness (or lack, thereof). And who best to turn to than end-users or clinicians who know EHRs inside out? See what David Hager, MD, has to say about EHRs and their glitches.

Now you don’t have to doubt his opinions. He says he’s a life-time geek who played Star Trek on a teletype machine and learned to code in C from Kernighan and Ritchie’s first edition book. He’s built multiple websites from the ground up and his peers call him the “computer guy”. So if you are convinced now, might we proceed? Okay then, here are some opinions Hager has regarding EHRs:

  1. Just how bad is it? Really bad! Just imagine how hard it is to deal with “clunky interfaces, awkward data entry, mind numbing popups, excessive mouse clicks, nonsensical forced choice radio buttons, slow response times, loculation of information, lack of integration or analysis, and identical looking notes” on a daily basis!  No wonder clinicians are the least inspired to buy an EHR with their own money.
  2. Alternative systems are hard to implement. If clinicians’ EHRs are so bad, why aren’t they switching to better ones? Cost, according to Hager, is the main hindrance. And then there’s the problem of migrating existing patient data to the new product, too, which has the word “expensive” written all over it.
  3. Physicians are open to new technologies: Contrary to popular belief, physicians aren’t reluctant to embrace new technology. In fact, they are eager to adopt those that help them work better and honestly; EHRs aren’t doing much to increase their productivity.
  4. Try giving physicians what they actually want: If EHRs offered what clinicians really wanted and needed, the government wouldn’t have had to enact a program to carrot physicians into using them.  Hager’s colleague’s description of their EHR says it all;  “Our EHR lacks the level of sophistication and integration necessary to capture my imagination and fuel a desire in my mind to think of ways I can use it to help make my job easier and enrich the lives of my patients.’” As for Hager, he says his EHR has failed to work for him.
  5. Flexibility is key: There are several problems with EHRs. True. They cannot be solved. False. There are some ways in which EHRs can be made crave-worthy. Allowing physicians to change EHR products at will, with little or no data migration cost, is one way to do just that. This, in turn, can lead to market competition fueled by freedom of customer choice, driving vendors to produce what clinicians want at more competitive prices. Hager has a suggestion on how we can get there, “Standardize data constructs. HIE developers want that so HIE will work. Apply the same concept to the main body of patient data, and not only will HIE be seamless, but EHR products can become interchangeable.” So here’s what product developers should keep in mind; structure the data first and then design the products.

Looking for a trusted Healthcare IT support partner who understands EHR and EMR solutions?  We can help.  Give us a call today and a member of our healthcare IT services team will be more than happy to serve your needs.

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