Study: 3 strategies to get physicians on board with EHR changes, optimizations

While most hospitals and health systems have made the transition from paper medical records to an electronic system, physicians are still required to adapt to changes as EHRs are optimized beyond initial implementation.

A team of Columbus-based Ohio State University Medicine and St. Louis-based Washington University School of Medicine researchers identified ways health systems can improve EHR adaptations for physicians, according to a Feb. 10 study published in BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making.

For the qualitative study, the research team interviewed nine physicians across a range of inpatient disciplines at a large Midwest-based academic medical center, which implemented an Epic EHR in 2011. Participants were asked questions on five main topics: physician background information, frequency and perceptions of EHR training, impact of EHR on communication with other clinicians, impact on work productivity and perspectives about tech-related policies.

After analyzing the interview responses, researchers found that physicians felt the EHR provided various benefits, including increased efficiency and speed as well as accessibility to information. Regarding EHR adaptation, researchers identified four main themes: impact of EHR changes on physicians, how physicians managed these changes, factors that facilitated adaptation to using the EHR and adapting to using the EHR in the patient encounter.

Researchers noted potential improvement strategies associated with each theme, which physicians used to better adapt to EHR tech changes. These strategies are:

1. Viewing the EHR as a necessary part of care and approaching adaptation with a positive mindset. One physician said: "I don’t have to look at the paper chart. I still remember when paper charts were—so, this is a thousand—as bad as EHR can be, it’s a thousand times better than paper charts." 

2. Training specifically tailored to the physicians' role or specialty helps them adapt to EHR changes. To ensure their specialty was considered.

3. Creating an opportunity for colleagues to learn from each other how to adapt to new EHR changes.

The research team concluded that physicians will be more receptive and adaptive to EHR changes when these strategies, such as positive mindset, transparent benefits and specialty-related training, are applied when the EHR undergoes system changes or upgrades.

More articles on EHRs:
16 hospitals, health systems seeking Allscripts, Cerner, Epic, Meditech talent
Survey: Providers identify data entry errors as biggest contributor to duplicate medical records
HealthPartners to implement patient payment tools for processing across Epic

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