Having had the privilege of practicing medicine for over three decades, I have witnessed exponential technological advances to advance the quality of patient care: ultrasound, CT scans, MRI’s, PET scans, the science of genomics, to name a few, have changed the way medicine is being practiced and how patients are treated.
Unfortunately, some of the technology advances have not accomplished the promised end results and are in desperate need of improvement. Topping the list of needed replacements is today’s electronic health records (EHRs) software systems.
While the promise of replacing paper charts and eliminating preventable errors due to illegible handwriting was certainly necessary, the EHR systems developed have contributed to a decline in the quality of health care. Forty-three percent of physicians polled by the American Medical Association believe the EHR has made their jobs more difficult. It alone has contributed to burn-out of excellent physicians, causing many to prematurely retire from the medical arts. A major reason given by those that have left or are contemplating leaving medicine is the fact that these technological systems have led to the destruction of the physician –patient relationship in favor of a relationship with awful software.
A few physician quotes:
- “Sad to spend my day staring at a screen while people share vulnerable moments”
- “I spend more time clicking boxes than assessing and caring for my patients”
- “We have lost that intimate relationship with our patients & the art of medicine….Instead, we are turned into robots.”
- “EHR’s were designed to decrease errors. I don’t believe I am making fewer errors. I am simply making different errors.”
- “EMR is built for the billers and not for health care providers. Doctors and patients should be the focus of EMRdesign, not reimbursements.”
Along with the interference that today’s EHR systems have created with the doctor-patient and nurse-patient relationships, there is a complete lack of communication and integration between software systems that results in an expensive, unusable, and unconnected software that frustrates doctors and nurses and fails patients. In today’s ultra- specialized health care world, technologies that allow for real-time communication, integration, and data sharing is what is desperately needed for the best patient care. Sharing is caring!
EHR’s can be a good thing for patient care if we make it that way. Doctors need to be at the table to make this happen, not just policy makers. We need to empower physicians to participate in the development of platforms that take care of our patients within the EHR. The EHR should be and can be as user-friendly as your favorite social media app. Technology should enable and enhance the human connection, and then get out of the way. The opposite has happened with current EHR’s and this must change.
The current software industry needs to collaborate with physicians and together make the next-generation EHR work for all.