4 frustrations physicians have with EHRs

Physicians have cited a range issues with EHRs, from infringing on the quality of patient interactions to playing a major role in rising rates of clinician burnout, KQED Science reports.

Here are four frustrations physicians have with EHRs.

1. Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of Stanford (Calf.) University Medical School, told KQED Science EHRs primarily serve as a documentation tool for billing and quality reporting, rather than as a tool to support clinical outcomes.

Albert Chan, MD, a family practice physician and the chief of digital patient experience for Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health, said insurance coding and quality measurements take up a significant portion of his time when using an EHR.

2. All this documentation leads many physicians to feel more like "data-entry clerks" rather than clinicians, resulting in less quality time with patients, the report states. "You're thinking about the mechanics of the documentation, rather than the implications of the symptoms and findings," Dr. Minor told KQED Science.

3. Another chief complaint physicians cited was the lack of interoperability between EHR systems. While there are some hospitals and healthcare organizations that are able to share data with one another, this capability is largely possible only by using the same EHR vendor, according to KQED Science.

"A lot of the EHRs are cash cows to their owners,” Will Ross, a project manager at the Ukiah, Calif.-based health information exchange Redwood MedNet, told KQED Science. "They make their money on installing them, not changing them."

4. EHR systems also tend to suffer from glitches because some officials hurried through the implementation process. Some medical groups rushed to install their EHRs after mandates from the ACA and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act went into effect, according to KQED Science.

However, some physicians also note their frustrations will begin to dissolve as glitches are corrected and policy improves.

"It's important to note that the EHR is an incredibly powerful tool," Dr. Chan said. "You can automatically alert patients about their conditions, for example; you can personalize their care. The lesson I've learned is that the EHR requires work to make it work."

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