EHRs are still a mess for physicians, but change is coming

Even though the vast digitalization efforts underway across the healthcare industry are aimed at improving care, efficiency and interoperability, a critical piece of the puzzle – electronic health records – are in many cases causing additional stress for clinicians.

With physicians already dealing with mountains of data on a daily basis, there is concern EHRs will not be fully useful unless additional technology that turns the data into actionable clinical information at the point of care also is implemented.

Layers of data within EHRs

Dr. Jay Anders, chief medical officer at Medicomp Systems, which markets artificial intelligence-powered, point-of-care systems designed to enhance EHRs, explained there are more layers of data than ever in EHRs, from more sources than ever.

Much of it is a result of emerging “data wars” between the nation’s tech giants, which are getting more involved in healthcare.

For example, in recent weeks, Amazon, Apple and Google all have announced plans to increase their healthcare footprints.

These tech giants each have hopes of disrupting the industry with technologies that leverage advanced analytics, machine learning and the power of the cloud.

Spoken conversation to EHR text

Amazon, for instance, is introducing a transcription tool that will take a spoken conversation between a patient and a doctor, translate the details to text, and store the note in the doctor’s EHR.

“While these tech giants are enabling important data to be captured in a more user-friendly way, it’s important to keep in mind that physicians already are dealing with an avalanche of data on a daily basis,” Dr. Anders told Healthcare IT News. “From a practical standpoint, having even more data to deal with adds to physician stress that ultimately fuels burnout – especially with increasing pressures to document more during patient encounters while also driving better outcomes and lowering costs.”

Essentially, the answer lies in giving physicians exactly what they need, when they need it, for improved clinical decision-making and better patient outcomes. This is an approach that improves care quality, decreases physician frustration, and reduces the stress that can lead to burnout, Anders said.

“Any technologies that help clinicians perform their jobs better are a welcome advance,” he said. “Ultimately, though, physicians need better data – not just more data – to deliver better care.”

2020 a breakthrough year?

He said it is likely that 2020 will indeed be a breakthrough year in making EHRs less stressful for healthcare providers, but only if that growing avalanche of data is reigned in with health IT that makes EHRs work better by turning disparate data into actionable clinical information at the point of care.

“This approach will streamline physician workflows to increase productivity, make compliance easier and lower stress, which in turn will decrease the risk of burnout,” Anders said.

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: [email protected]
Twitter: @dropdeaded209

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