EHRs may limit productivity

Worried about how EHRs are going to affect your productivity? Find out what other physicians are saying about the issue.

Key Points

Concerns over practice productivity remain the most challenging aspect of implementation of an electronic health record (EHR) system, according to a recent Medical Economics survey.

In fact, productivity fears far outweighed other factors, including performance of the product, time, and cost, according to the survey. The data were generated from a recently concluded State of Primary Care survey that sought input from physicians about trends affecting the profession.

Some experts say that during the initial stages of an implementation, you should plan for a 30% reduction in productivity, but the loss of productivity can be as high as 50% for some practices. Why?

"It takes an enormous amount of time for patients to register and get insurance information into the system, slowing down the process of seeing the normal volume of patients," Ellis says.

Training, data transfer, data connections, and tech support all have to be factored in during an EHR implementation. The initial goal is to minimize productivity loses as much as possible, and then to work efficiently to return productivity to levels experienced just before the implementation.

Many of the EHR Best Practices Study participants advise taking time to complete training and organize your efforts before attempting to go live. This preparation will reduce the time it takes your practice team to develop proficiency in using the new system.

Some of the doctors participating in the EHR study offered advice ranging from testing the system's interfaces before going live to maintaining a set schedule for staff training.

Some other tips from physicians participating in the Medical Economics EHR Best Practices Study:

According to study participants, preparation is key to success. The more time you invest in understanding the capabilities of your system and preparing for the challenges of integrating records and setting up your office-based practice to go paperless, the easier the transition.

And everyone in the practice will have a learning curve. It's a fact that shouldn't be underestimated.

Case in point? When one physician was asked for advice, he simply stated: "Ask me again in 3 months."

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