With all the new legal mandates involving electronic health records (EHRs), many doctors can be heard grumbling over all the extra work needed just to get paid and avoid fines. Indeed, some of this resistance comes from the fact that no one likes to feel forced to do anything. Change is hard but in most cases – especially with EHR’s – such change is meant for good reasons. Let’s distill the most common EHR complaints down to what they mean for the provider and how to resolve them.
Complaint #1: “EHRs Require Too Much Documentation”
One of the biggest complaints doctors have with EHRs is all the extra documentation that comes with using them. The better you document your actions and services, the lower your risk of being slapped with (and potentially losing) a medical malpractice suit. Any attorney will tell you “If it’s undocumented…it never happened.” This risk has never been truer since the Insurance Journal reports that malpractice lawsuits are starting to increase, with an average payout somewhere in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Improved documentation via EHRs also helps during an audit by Medicare or a commercial carrier. Sadly, these instances are also on the rise according to Becker’s Hospital CFO. In this case, having all of the required health information available is less of a thorn and more of a relief.
So, yes, EHRs do require a fair amount of documentation. However, this not only improves the standard of care but also protects you and your practice from any legal repercussions.
Complaint #2: “Using an EHR Reduces My Time with My Patients”
Another common complaint a lot of doctors have when it comes to EHR’s is that they limit time with their patients. This issue is further compounded by reports that doctors are 15 times more likely to suffer burnout than any other professional, citing “documentation overload” as one of the reasons for this level of stress and fatigue and further lowering the amount of time spent with the people they’re trying to treat.
It’s natural for providers to think the extra time documenting would ultimately be a disservice to patients. However, some studies have proven otherwise. HealthIT.gov shares that EHRs actually improves patient satisfaction. They do this by reducing office wait times, improving doctor-patient communication, and better engaging the patient in his or her care.
Finally, EHRs can also improve patient safety. Case in point: not too long ago, Forbes did a story highlighting how 440,000 people die annually due to “preventable medical errors.” So any reduction in errors, which is what EHRs aim to do, will result in safer treatments for the patients.
Complaint #3: “My EHR is Not Easy to Use”
One big complaint doctors have about EHRs is that they don’t like to use them because of their steep learning curve or their user experience is poor. In fact, HealthcareITNews indicates office productivity can drop by as much as 20 percent in the first four weeks after EHR implementing. This figure is a scary number especially in busy offices with small margins.
However, onboarding your EHR is much faster when choosing a customizable system for the provider and their practice. For instance, select an EHR system that is intuitively designed and operates in the way a doctor thinks. Also, choose an EHR that’s interoperable. This function means health records can be shared between other EHR certified systems seamlessly.
By following these rules, EHR adoptability will be less painful and usability more enjoyable.
On a side note, because learning a new EHR system can take a bit of time, plan for the transition. Allow yourself and your employee’s time to get used to inputting and receiving the data, and you’ll ease some of this pain.
Complaint #4: “EHR’s Are SO Expensive”
Certainly, EHRs aren’t free – despite what some companies may claim. Purchasing an EHR can take a huge bite out of your annual revenue and possibly eat up a large portion of your capital. That’s why it’s important to choose an EHR provider focused on reducing your overhead costs while increasing your productivity.
To start, select a server-based EHR system. These platforms will lead to overall lower costs of ownership. Taking this route also saves you from paying internet fees and eliminates early termination costs – both found with EHR’s in the cloud.
You can cut costs further by choosing an EHR which offers free services such as a no-cost setup, free software updates, and free patient portals. All of these options can save you money, reducing their impact on your bottom line.
There is no such thing as a “perfect EHR” for any provider. There will always be some compromises. But with some due diligence in the selection process, the pro’s can overwhelmingly outweigh the cons. Ultimately EHR’s are meant to improve patient care, get paid faster, and minimize liability. So with finding the right EHR along with little change in perspective, they can be a welcome addition to your practice.