EMR Usage: It Hurts To Know the Systems Are Broken


It’s difficult to read articles like the one I just read (including 30+ comments) on KevinMD re the ugly (and sometimes harmful) state of the current EMR usage healthcare-wide. (Read it here.)

As a healthcare and IT professional, it hurts to know the systems are so broken. But what I can do is to make the EMR usage as smooth and productive as possible within the scope of my skill.

Not that good people aren’t doing amazing things with the EMR design and it’s usage. They are! And the challenges are often very steep, for almost everybody who uses today’s EMR. It’s an uneasy situation with competing agendas and mandates on board in multiple environments.

The interface used in today’s healthcare setting has come along way since the EMR was first used in billing. There’s a lot of power at every desktop that delivers the EMR from clinics, hospitals and outreach sites. If a provider uses it every day in limited ways for defined purposes and scopes the daily headaches for these providers are usually manageable. As the scope of the usage broadens so it seems does the risk of “speed bumps” turning up, delaying what ought to be fairly straightforward processes.

The exchange of data to outside third parties ought to be a clean and clear transfer of secure data. This is what modern users of technology experience in other areas of their lives. Healthcare professionals don’t experience this same sort of interoperability in healthcare. To be sure, security is of prime importance in this environment, and many, many smart and good people work hard at making the system compliant with this need. They do a great job. Mistakes happen, as they always will, and with them stress and sometimes true harm.

These issues and more add to the adoption-resistant reality for many providers. These providers use their smart phones that are easy and effective, and then return to their EMR begrudgingly. They are not technology adverse. They’ve embraced the new way of doing things but the current state of EMR causes unproductive roadblocks in the streamlined delivery of healthcare. This adds the already stressful environment that many providers already work in.

What to do?

Well, the industry can’t really turn back the hands of time and en masse go back to using paper charts. Institutions have spent too much money and the government mandates are too stiff let that happen. Everything is digital in our contemporary world and to not use an EMR seems backwards. For me, the EMR is a great tool that seems to have been rolled out generally half-backed and painful to update/improve ever since. And transition on this scale is extremely difficult.

I don’t have any sure-fire answers, of course, but I provide help where I can.

I can help with solutions that good hard-working people have made in making EMR usage better and easier to provide access to better patient care at (hopefully) lower costs.

It’s not easy. We’re all in this together to make the EMR and it usage as productive, intuitive and geared towards high quality patient care as possible. We can do this!

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