Why one practice ditched EHR in favor of paper records

A stethoscope on a computer keyboard
Not one doctor in an Illinois medical practice wanted to keep using an EHR. (Getty/anyaberkut)

The Illinois Pain Institute has done what many physicians only dream about doing. The practice, which has multiple locations in four Illinois counties, just ditched its electronic health record (EHR) and went back to paper records.

The private practice voted unanimously to take the step back to paper records two years ago and has not regretted it, John Prunskis, M.D., founder and co-director, told Becker’s Hospital Review.

"We felt the level of patient care was not enhanced by an electronic health record. We saw it was inefficient and added nonproductive work to physicians' time,” Prunskis told the publication.

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Almost all physicians in the United States have transitioned to EHRs, according to a 2016 report. Doctors' biggest gripe is the erosion of the physician/patient relationship as they spend too much time looking at a computer screen and not enough time looking at patients.

A Mayo Clinic study last year found use of EHRs reduces physician satisfaction and contributes to higher rates of burnout.

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The EHR itself hinders data exchange, Prunskis told the publication, because many systems don’t talk to each other. The advantage of a dictated paper note is that it is short and succinct, with the important information right there, rather than looking through pages and pages of an EHR.