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Physicians imagine a better EHR


Physicians and other experts offered these ideas, from practical improvements for solving today’s problems to visionary suggestions that could dramatically change how they practice.

Every physician likely has his or her own thoughts about how to improve electronic health records (EHRs). Physicians and other experts offered these ideas, from practical improvements for solving today’s problems to visionary suggestions that could dramatically change how they practice.

Make the systems work together

“I hear almost every day some issue around interoperability from doctors-not having access to data, or if they get it, they get a 20-page document that the system doesn’t understand,” says Steven E. Waldren, MD, a health IT expert and director of the American Academy of Family Physicians' Alliance for eHealth Innovation.

Make it easier and more intuitive

“Information is too difficult to find and the software is not intuitive,” says Derek Kosiorek, CPEHR, CPHIT, principal consultant at the Medical Group Management Association Healthcare Consulting Group. This goes to the point of a recent American Medical Association study that finds doctors spend too much time interacting with computers and not enough with their patients. For example, Marc D. Price, DO, a primary care physician in New York, says he must call customer support to produce certain regulatory-required reports and often needs to enter the same data multiple times. “I do duplicity work throughout the day that I shouldn’t have to do,” he says.

Add better analytics

As the healthcare industry transitions to value-based care, physicians need to analyze their patient records to identify which patients aren’t doing as well as they should. Waldren says EHRs must add more robust analytic capabilities so physicians can do risk-stratified care management and drill down into dashboards to see how populations are doing.


Support high-tech care delivery

Value-based care also will make telemedicine and remote patient monitoring more common, Waldren says. EHRs need to get better at enabling such high-tech care and integrating patient data that result from those interactions.

Make EHRs smarter

Consumer devices and software systems in other industries use data to predict what users want or should do and then offer easy ways to take those steps. “But the current health IT just doesn’t do that,” Waldren says. A typical EHR, for example, might alert a physician to a recommended test but won’t let the physician order it with a single click.
It should, Waldren says.

Become a virtual assistant

Waldren says he envisions EHRs doing more to support physicians as they practice. They could use voice and visual recognition via computer recording capabilities to automatically take notes and follow commands. Projection technologies could open and display information on a wall so the patient and physician could view it together. As futuristic as it might seem, it’s not far-fetched. 

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