The problem with EHRs: 5 complaints from CIOs

Clinician dissatisfaction with EHRs has widely been documented, largely surrounding the issue of workflow. However, CIOs also have their complaints with the way EHRs function.

These complaints run from the technical to the regulatory. Here are five complaints CIOs have regarding EHRs.

1. A lack of national standards regarding discrete data. Ferdinand Feola, CIO of East Stroudsburg, Pa.-based Pocono Health System, says this lack of standards "has exasperated the ability of health systems to aggregate data for reporting and decision support."

2. No integrated communication. EHRs may collect data, but physicians are often left without a way to discuss patient information, says Garry Choy, MD, assistant CMIO of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "We not only want to input notes, read notes and check lab values, but rather we want to talk to our colleagues as clinicians. We need to integrate communication into the EMR. In the future, I hope to not have to call an operator or go to a separate webpage to page a colleague to discuss an urgent case."

3. Not user-friendly. Dr. Choy says we need "good-looking EMR" systems that provide easier, more user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing interfaces. "I envision design and excellence in user experience as a huge differentiator for the best health IT systems," he says.

4. We have big data but not smart data. Smart data, according to Dr. Choy, is what truly matters in the EHR, the information needed at any given time to make a critical decision and take care of a patient. "We need a way of discovering the needle in a haystack," Dr. Choy says. "If we can Google for any information on the Web, we should be able to 'Google' our medical records."

5. Lack of regulation. Without regulated governance over EHRs, vendors hold no liability regarding their product, says Mr. Feola. "The pain [non-regulation] brings to an organization [that] has invested millions of dollars and hours can, and has, crippled health organizations' ability to move forward."

Meaningful use is one attempt at this regulation, but Mr. Feola says the mandates and expense of the program were unsustainable and off-putting, despite the program's best intentions. He says, "We govern money to insure the highest integrity of use and exchange; can't we translate that governance to our health?"

More articles on EHRs:

Wheaton Franciscan to implement $54M Epic EHR
5 states with the most, least HIMSS Stage 7 hospitals
The new 10-year standard: Find a more accurate EHR total cost ownership

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