How to Troubleshoot & Fix EHRs

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EHR systems are continually evolving. In the United States, EHR systems are adopted by more than 96 percent of hospitals. Most of the hospitals and clinics have deployed electronic health record systems (EHRs). So now, the focus is on improving EHR design, development, and implementation to address known patient-safety issues and enhance EHR usability issues that contribute to physician burnout. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in 2020, 74.5 percent of queried physicians claimed EHRs contributed to their burnout.

The amount of time physicians in the United States spend utilizing electronic health records are undoubtedly frustrating (EHRs). This applies to both primary care and specialty physicians, and it leads to physician burnout. The annual cost of physicians using EHRs for half of their time is over $365 billion.

In 2009, President Barack Obama presented a speech at an AMA conference saying EHRs “will not only mean less paper-pushing and lower administrative costs, saving taxpayers billions of dollars; it will also mean all of you physicians will have an easier time doing your jobs.”

Addressing the Concerns

“EHRs are like an advanced physics college class that had no prereq requirement,” Gaurav Sharma, the EMR manager at GoHealth Urgent Care said.

Sharma believes the problem can be divided into three subsections.

  • Pre-registration/Registration: Acquiring maximum patient data during the pre-registration and registration process could reduce the physician’s clerical burden.
  • Clinical Documentation: The interface of the physician must be as straightforward as possible to use. All EHRs should be integrated with voice recognition software or scribes to assist physicians effectively.
  • Simplification of Billing/Coding: An accurate, recommended EM code should be generated by answering a few questions in the EHR.

How to Fix the EHR burden?

  • Streamline the documentation process
  • Adopt the most contemporary E/M documentation policies.
  • Standards for interoperability should be implemented.
  • Establish a Uniform and Industry-specific UX
  • Clinical workflows and EHR should be aligned.
  • Ensure that content is coherent throughout the system.
  • Facilitate Public Health Reporting by Integrating with PDMP and EPCS
  • Integrate with PDMPs.
  • Ensure complete HIPAA compliance.
  • Integrate with CPOE

Policymakers’ Role in Healthcare

Regarding EHR reform emanating from policymakers, Sharma had his own perspectives.

“I feel healthcare policy is useful, necessary and helps us compile data for future use/need,” he said. “However, it’s not created with a provider in mind. In an ideal world, policies that require EHR change should be on their own timeline. Provider/healthcare organizations should have an implementation date of their own. This would allow providers to adopt changes, perfect workflows, and educate the end-users.”