Five mistakes you’re making with your EHRs

April 15, 2016

Think you are using your EHR correctly? Think again. You may be guilty of one of these common pitfalls with the systems.

Despite problematic implementations and cumbersome deployments, studies show that most doctors are more proficient with using their electronic health records (EHRs) and report that their systems help provide quality patient care.

Accenture’s Doctors Survey 2015 illustrates this point. It reported that 79% of the 601 U.S. doctors polled are more proficient using EHRs than they were two years prior and more than half of them said entering patient notes and e-prescribing (the two most common uses of EHRs) helps them provide quality patient care.

Those are positive points, but there’s still room for improvement in most medical practices. Here are five mistakes you’re likely making with your EHRs:

Thinking like a doctor (and not a techie)

Some EHR systems are better than others; some have more user-friendly functionality, some are easier to integrate. But too many clinicians don’t spend enough time evaluating these points when choosing and upgrading, said Barbara Filkins, a healthcare consultant and analyst with the SANS Institute, an information systems and cybersecurity training company. As a result, they often get stuck with systems that don’t meet their needs or are cumbersome to use. “The concept of running an IT project is a foreign concept for a provider, but the IT folks need to be able to talk medicine and the medical folks need to talk IT. They don’t need to know how to do each other’s job. But they need to know how to come together,” Filkins said.

Next: Failing to update workflow processes

 

Failing to update workflow processes

If you didn’t update the way you work when implementing your EHR, you missed an opportunity to improve how you do your job and run your office, said Douglas B. Fridsma, MD, PhD, president and CEO of the American Medical Informatics Association. For example, if you’re still writing prescriptions that an assistant later enters electronically, you’ve wasted the chance to save time and possibly eliminate errors (by having a misread prescription order).

Relying on autocorrect or autocomplete

Many software programs today complete words after just a few typed letters and correct misspelled words. Those may be helpful features when texting a spouse or a friend, but they can potentially introduce errors when used in EHRs, Fridsma said. So it’s best to turn them off or modify the functions so it can offer suggested words to type without automatically typing the word for you.

Making patients jump through hoops

Fridsma says too many EHRs have patient interfaces with too many portals or with multiple log-in requirements. “Patient engagement is important, so we have to figure out how to bring the data to the patient,” he said, adding that clinicians and healthcare institutions should ultimately find ways to bring all of a patient’s information together in one site. “It’s about reaching out to them so they can see all the information in their medical records.”

Next: Failing to educate staff on their secure role

 

Failing to educate staff on their secure role.

According to cybersecurity specialists, phishing attacks–those in which a hacker sends emails to employees persuading them to click on a link, open an attachment, or provide sensitive information that can be used to infiltrate the computer systems–are still some of the most prevalent types of cyberattacks. Why? Because they work. Fridsma said that just goes to show how much more education is needed to keep EHR systems secure.