Hundreds of comments from physicians about electronic health record (EHR) systems were gathered by Medical Economics. The benefits and disadvantages were weighed in.
- Mobile applications
- Access to data facilitated
- Patient population metrics improved
- Financially draining
- Decreases productivity
- Diverts attention from patients
- Meaningful Use program is flawed
- Diminishes quality of patient care
- Lack of interoperability
Currently, many physicians still consider EHRs more of a burden than a benefit. High costs, draining the practice of funds that may never be recouped, and poor functionality are still outweighing the benefits.
See the chart below for comparisons.
Patient visits ‘eroded’
“The acrobatics a physician has to parse through to achieve meaningful use short changes face-to-face patient interactions. With the cost of running a medical practice, (which includes rising salaries for employees, increasing cost of providing those same employees with healthcare coverage, rising cost of medical devices and consumables, and more infuriating is the slow and continual downward progression of reimbursement), patients already were complaining about wait times and shortened encounters. The encounter that was already squeezed by declining healthcare reimbursement is further diminished and eroded by a physician staring at a computer screen instead of sitting face-to-face and chatting with his patient.” —Anish U. Shah, MD
Care declines, costs rise
“It has been my experience, in almost six years now of using EHR, that very little actually improves patient care. It has, however, added tremendously to my overhead, and more ventolin vs generic salbutamol importantly, decreased the number of patients I can practically see in a day. None of this is surprising, since I think very little of EHR has been developed by clinicians for clinicians.” —Joseph A. Anistranski, MD
Physicians shoulder burden
“Before we adopted our EHR system, when people would ask me about the subject, I’d answer that I had no real objection to the idea but ‘who would pay for it?’ So far, the answer has mostly been ‘us.’ Other than our notes being easier to read, it’s hard to see how it improves our medical care (which we feel has always been very good). I’ll feel better about it when we see resulting improvements in the ‘business’ of our practice.” —George M. Korengold, MD
Slowing us down
“Healthcare used to be about patients, nurses, and doctors. Now it’s about insurers, lawyers, and—most recently—IT people. Doctors’ records take so much longer just to read because there’s so much boilerplate garbage on them to justify coding levels. You will not stop fraud and abuse by punishing hardworking doctors. You will only drive us crazy, or into early retirement.” —Fred Marks, MD
Too Many vendors
Because of the hundreds of the current vendors, each on different platforms, we continue to have a dysfunctional and very expensive industry that does no favors to the practicing physicians to improve care.” —Pankaj R. Desai, MD
Unfortunately, many of these remarks are not appreciably different from when electronic health record systems first appeared back in 2009, despite three quarters of physician practices now implementing a system.
Hopefully, we will see the fruits of our labor.
What have your experiences been? Share them in the comment box below.