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Many doctors complain that electronic health records (EHRs) drain their time, rather than create efficiencies. In fact, Deloitte’s 2016 Survey of U.S. Physicians found that seven out of 10 physicians think that EHRs reduce their productivity. Health IT experts say doctors can take these six steps to boost their productivity:
Many doctors complain that electronic health records (EHRs) drain their time, rather than create efficiencies. In fact, Deloitte’s 2016 Survey of U.S. Physicians found that seven out of 10 physicians think that EHRs reduce their productivity. Health IT experts say doctors can take these six steps to boost their productivity.
Physicians say typing information into EHRs takes too much time and draws attention away from patients. John W. Beasley, MD, coordinator of I-PrACTISE (Improving Primary Care Through Industrial Systems Engineering), has found that physicians can save about six hours a week by dictating notes for medical assistants to edit and enter into EHRs. Jeff Weil, chief information officer of District Medical Group of Arizona Inc., says his organization is now using speech recognition software in a pilot project.
Ann Meehan, RHIA, director of information governance with the American Health Information Management Association IGAdvisors, recommends physicians work with their EHR vendors or IT consultants to configure their software to match their workflow processes. She says too many clinicians settle for default settings that have them scrolling or clicking through extra screens. Some physicians have successfully streamlined their work processes, further boosting their efficiencies as a result.
Clinicians who invest in training for themselves and their staff learn shortcuts and macros to speed through routine tasks, says Andrew Gettinger, MD, a chief medical information officer at the Office of the National Coordinator. For example, most doctors typically prescribe the same few dozen medications, so they can save time by preformatting those in their EHR.
Asking patients to handle some tasks can also boost productivity, says Steven D. Weinman, MBA, a principal at healthcare consulting firm FQHC Associates in Gainesville, Florida. Physicians can have patients use in-office tablets to enter basic information needed for their visits, such as current prescriptions, with that information configured to populate the patient’s electronic record. He says doctors even can have patients do the same tasks through patient portals prior to visits. This way, doctors can quickly review and verify information during the visit.
EHRs collect and analyze information in ways that aren’t possible with paper charts, so Weinman advises physicians to take advantage of that capability by hiring companies that use the data to perform specific tasks, such as coding visits, streamlining referrals or handling chronic care.
Mary K. Pratt is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer who specializes in business and technology content. Send your technology questions to medec@ ubm.com.