Healthcare News & Insights

Love or hate EHRs? For doctors, the answer is both

Most healthcare providers are using electronic records or will do so in the near future. Do doctors like working with EHR systems? The answer is complicated, according to a recent report.

86536752There are plenty of things doctors like about electronic records. But they also have a number of complaints about EHR systems, according to a recent study from RAND Health.

Researchers surveyed doctors from 30 physician practices in six states. Those doctors reported both positive and negative effects EHR use was having on their job satisfaction.

The positive aspects of EHR implementation reported in the survey included:

  • the ability to remotely access patient information
  • a better way to track patient health over time
  • improved communication between different departments, and
  • an overall improvement in the quality of care.

However, the physicians surveyed had plenty of bad things to say about EHRs, too. Some of the top complaints reported in the survey:

  • EHR systems take time away from patient interaction
  • entering data is time consuming
  • too many warnings and alerts create an overload of information, and
  • clinical information is less accurate because it’s forced into structured fields.

Doctors also had complaints about the specific EHR systems they’re currently using — primarily that they’re difficult to use, cumbersome and inefficient, and cost more than was initially expected.

What hospitals can do

Those results aren’t surprising. Other recent surveys have that doctors are likely to be dissatisfied with their current EHR system. While some of the onus is on the software vendors to make products that better meet providers’ needs, there are steps hospitals can take to help reap the benefits of electronic records while minimizing the downsides.

RAND recommends improving doctors’ knowledge to make those systems easier to use. By providing the right EHR training, hospitals can help doctors use those systems as efficiently as possible.

And for organizations shopping for their first system or something to replace their current software, ease-of-use is one of the most important factors that should be weighed when making a decision. It helps to try software demos with doctors and others who will use the system to see how easy it is to complete their regular tasks.

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