Health & medicine Science & tech

Making electronic health records work

Electronic health records are now part of everyday healthcare, but few would claim they have reached their full potential, and for doctors, they have added an extra layer of administrative hassle. How can this time be cut down and the full range of benefits unlocked? Abi Millar reports. 

When electronic health records (EHRs) were first rolled out a decade ago, it was hard to see the downsides. Rather than keeping written notes on their patients, doctors would be able to input that information digitally, making it easier to share with other providers. Over the long run, EHRs would spur a data revolution in healthcare, smoothing the patient journey and helping clinicians with their decision-making.

Unfortunately, while EHRs are now a staple part of everyday healthcare, not all their touted benefits have come to pass. Rather than saving time, they have actually added to users’ workload, with many physicians now spending more time on EHRs than they do with patients. This stands in contrast to the pre-EHR era, where paperwork typically consumed less than a third of the doctor’s time.

According to a 2016 study, for every hour of direct clinical face time with patients, physicians spend nearly two additional hours on EHRs and deskwork. A different study, in 2017, found that primary care physicians spend almost six hours on EHR data entry during a typical 11.4 hour workday. And in a poll by Stanford Medicine, half of office-based primary care physicians said using an EHR actually detracts from their clinical effectiveness.

Read the rest of this article in the September 2019 edition of Medical Technology

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