By Alex Tate
The EHR is taking the Health It industry one step closer to an efficient, more cost effective world. Physicians across the state are adopting EHRs and without a surprise, things are looking good; better than they were previously. With the introduction of this latest gadget gizmo, physicians are able to experience improved medical record documentation and legibility. The tool has earned its place in hospitals and practices as the primary means of achieving better care, better population health and lower health care cost per capita. However, there’s another side of the coin often overlooked.
Malpractice insurers have reported EHRs to be a source of medical liability instead. According to a national medical liability insurer, substantial amount of EHR-related malpractice claims was derived from system errors (42%) and not user factors. Which is why it’s often best to educate yourself of the real risks of outdated EHRs and make the smart decision when investing in health IT.
The percentage of office-based pediatricians using EHRs rose from 58% in 2009 to 79% in 2012, while at the same time the limited pediatric functionality and multiple EHR systems and platforms contribute to interoperability problems (Lehmann CU, et al. Pediatrics. 2015;135: e7-e15).
Primary care physicians are not often cognizant of the reality that they do not have immediate access to data on emergency department visits, hospital admissions, subspecialist reports, laboratory results and acute care provided outside the medical home due to interoperability issues. Fragmented EHRs help in contributing to serious errors in medical management, exposing patients to harm and pediatricians to professional liability.
A more reasonable approach to the issue would involve the provider asking their patients to direct summaries from other providers to the medical home.
Let’s get down to the just the basics and talk about how most EHRs are not equipped with the ability to grow as practices expand. Physicians across the state have often complained about finding themselves creating more workarounds and running up against the boundaries of their EHR. Doctors are investing time in organizing multiple software systems to handle their complete business. The transition from system to system results in missing out on the continuity between billing, patient flow, and scheduling (to say the least), and hence slow down the practice altogether. Which is why it may be time for physicians to trade up for a more comprehensive solution, one that allows them manage their practice without managing the software.
A great number of time-consuming workarounds, subpar patient service interactions, and challenging internal processes are just bits and pieces that come along as a package with outdated EHRs. A system that better reflects your practice and the way you work in it can make all the difference. With the health IT growing at rapid speed, what the practices should be looking for is an EHR that thinks like a doctor; one that not only grows with the practice but also manages to provide the physicians with the freedom of ‘switching things up a bit’.
A set of preloaded templates, specific to various medical specialties is what practices need. Family practice, internal medicine, cardiology, ob/gyn, pediatrics, surgery, and urgent care are all examples of these specialties. The ability to edit preloaded templates to suit specific needs, enabling them to maximize the potential of electronic health records systems is really what the physicians are looking for. At the end of the day doctors and physicians too, are one of us looking for something that’s attractive to the eye instead of coming across the plain templates every single day.
It’s not too late
Often EHRs usually bring along the aspect of zero hope of improvement with them. However here are a few ways of improving your existing EHR to meet your specific needs in the best way possible.
- Computer systems must be updated in order to capture and manage structured data as well as thought processes, speculations, opinions and uncertainties.
- Cross-train the staff; various record and document handling tasks can be assumed by more than one person.
- Link diagnostic codes with current procedural technology (CPT) codes through your EHR system.
- Creating “triggers” within the best EHR software improves productivity. For example, the information that a patient has recovered fully could trigger a default set of statements that in turn would be automatically entered into notes.
The ‘better safe than sorry’ approach has been a guiding light for individuals across the planet, looking to make smarter decisions in life. Healthcare provides too can benefit from it and switch to a smarter EHR, one that acts like a doctor and helps them manage their practice instead of the software itself.
Alex Tate is a health IT fanatic who is passionate about technology and its revolutionary impact on the healthcare industry. He adds value to the healthcare community by providing answers to problems faced by the providers. He is always hunting hot topics and opportunities that will open new dimensions in the field of Health IT.