AMA: EHR discontent is ‘taking a significant toll’ on physicians

September 19, 2014

The American Medical Association is calling on electronic health record (EHR) vendors to drastically improve the design and functionality of their systems, which have been a source of frustration for many of its members.

The American Medical Association (AMA) is calling on electronic health record (EHR) vendors to drastically improve the design and functionality of their systems, which have been a source of frustration for many of its members.

“Physicians have long embraced new technology quickly and regularly, and they see value that EHRs can deliver,” says Steven Stack, MD, president-elect of the AMA and chair of its Advisory Committee on Physician EHR Usability. “We do not want to go back to paper records. But today’s current EHR products are immature, costly, and are not well-designed to improve clinical care.”

Read: 5 ways to put EHR data into action

In fact, a survey recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine found that physicians lose an average of 48 minutes per day to EHR data entry.

“We have to check, click, double-click and scroll incessantly just to get through simple tasks. It is inordinately inefficient to do that,” says Stack. “There is a crying need to make it much more like the experience people have on most commonly available smartphones, where it’s intuitive, effortless, and timesaving rather than time diminishing.”

The AMA has issued eight priorities for EHR vendors:

  • Enhance the physician’s ability to provide high-quality patient care

  • Support team-based care

  • Promote care coordination

  • Offer product modularity and configuration

  • Reduce cognitive workload

  • Promote data liquidity

  • Facilitate digital and mobile patient engagement

  • Expedite user input into product design and post-implementation feedback

“This will enable physicians to focus on the patient, rather than technology,” says Christopher Ross, MBA, chief information officer for the Mayo Clinic. “It will place the EHR in the proper role in the health IT ecosystem. It should provide the data needed for physicians and systems to jointly improve patient experience, improve health of populations, and reduce per capita costs. It should result in enhanced physician leadership and professional satisfaction.”

The AMA says it is working with vendors to improve in the eight areas identified. In early 2015, the AMA plans to release modules developed by physicians on purchasing, implementing and optimizing EHRs.

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