Quite a few times I have heard the notion within IT circles that going electronic from paper records takes too long because many doctors don’t like them; and from many doctors I have heard that the way electronic transformation is being pushed on them is not efficient and will result into them having to hire extra staff just to manage the electronic system.
Electronic Health Records (EHR) is a record of health related information which is normally delivered through the healthcare information exchange (HIE) across networks. The goal of EHRs and EMRs is to make important information available to the physicians so that they can make effective decisions and benefit the consumers by educating them about their health statuses. This system can also put a big dent in cost savings for insurers, providers, hospitals and patients by eliminating the need of a test if the results of the same test are already available.
Do doctors hate EHR/HIEs?
One of the partial misconceptions I have most often seen is the belief that all doctors (especially the older ones) hate technology and are resistant to change. While I do not discount that the age is a factor in some cases, I do believe that there are other factors involved that are the cause of resistance against going electronic.
The resentment against a technology is a common dilemma in a situation where a program is developed without proper discussions and advice from the users who will use it.
The resistance to change should come with no surprise when we give doctors a system that looks more confusing than the paper process and requires them to hire a separate FTE.
Too much information
HIE systems need to follow Apple’s algorithmic strategy. Apple has championed the art of taking something complicated and presenting it in a very simple format. From the medical standpoint, the worst mistake for HIE teams would be to engage in the practice of throwing as much data as possible into the exchange. Sure, doctors love access to important data but what they don’t need is access to so much data that the navigation through different screens and finding the relevant information becomes harder.
A good HIE should take the technical hurdles away from the physician so that the physician should not feel the need to hire a fulltime technical specialist just to deal with the software.
An effective EHR/HIE should:
- Offer interfaces that are simple and easy to follow
- Allow import and export of data in XML, X12 or some other standard format
- Designed to be about outcomes and not about the technology
- Be able to clearly relay usage benefits to the physicians and the patients
- Offer access to training for physician offices
- Allow physicians to choose what kind of data to display
The bottom line is that these systems should be designed with outcomes, costs and simplicity in mind.