Frustrated with Your EHR System? 3 Steps to Get You Back on Track

A recent report from AmericanEHR Partners shows that physicians’ user satisfaction levels for EHR (electronic health record) systems are dropping. Thanks to a multitude of usability and productivity frustrations, many physicians are now looking for alternative solutions. If you’ve found yourself amongst this growing number of frustrated physicians, you should know that transferring to a new system or, even worse, simply accepting your current system’s inefficiency as being the new status quo aren’t your only options.

The first step is to focus on those things that are within your control and then investigate possible changes you can make to cut down on EHR issues. To start, here are three areas to explore:

Do Your Homework before You Buy

During the evaluation stage, take the time to really understand the EHR system and how it works. A great way to do this is by conducting a site visit at another practice that’s already using the technology. Observing the system in action within a real-life workflow will give you a better sense of its day-to-day usability.

Then consider how that EHR system would fit into your own practice: Would it work with your current technology and other systems? Does it make sense for you to purchase it when you consider the size and unique needs of your own practice? Is it scalable, meaning will it be able to accommodate an influx of patients or even the addition of more healthcare providers in the coming years?

Take it a step further by carefully reading all of the fine print. Work with an attorney to iron out any lingering questions you may have, and make sure everything is clearly stated so there’s no confusion from the outset.

Involve the Whole Team

Implementing an EHR system should affect the entire practice. But oftentimes the majority of the responsibility tends to fall into the lap of the person who signed the paperwork: the physician. Assess which employees will use the technology and what their typical tasks are. Could changes in some of the staff members’ roles and responsibilities ease the burden by sharing more of the workload? Data entry is an especially tricky area; so take a look at how people can work as a team to get things done more efficiently and consistently.

Training is another piece of the puzzle. While an initial training session can get your practice started on the right foot with an EHR, you must ensure that it supplies comprehensive, in-depth instruction. And as with any new technology, questions and unfamiliar scenarios will inevitably pop up over time. Therefore, an ongoing training schedule—a “checkup,” if you will—should help address any bumps along the way and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

Keep an Open Mind

When dealing with EHR inefficiencies, it’s easy to become frustrated and tempted to throw in the towel. But taking the time to investigate possible solutions before you make your first move, rather than relying on shortcuts and workarounds, will pay off in the long run. Workarounds (such as maintaining a “backup” paper chart) or shortcuts (like copying and pasting, or relying too heavily on automatic functions) are only short-term fixes. They’re sure to catch up with you when inconsistencies and errors arise.

Take a step back and look at the big picture. Where can you implement changes to smooth out common problems? Are there technical discrepancies and difficulties, or are there workflow and training issues? Addressing your practice’s collective frustrations—either with the EHR vendor or within a team meeting—is a better strategy for maintaining consistent records than leaving everyone to come up with their own workarounds.

As with any new technology, it takes time and patience to work out the kinks. But by concentrating on the areas you can control and possible actions you can take, you’ll feel more empowered—and hopefully achieve a higher level of satisfaction with your practice’s EHR technology as a result.

 

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