Electronic health records can be an asset, not a burden, if physician practices modify their approach to the systems, according to an article published this month in the Harvard Business Review.
The article, by Jeff Butler, founder and CEO of regional independent practice organization Privia Health, and John Fox, executive director of content at athenahealth, noted that physician frustration with EHRs is at an all-time high, but explained that reverting to paper records "is not a choice" since EHRs are needed to meet the Triple Aim of lowering costs, improving quality and enhancing the patient experience.
Privia, with 1,200 doctors on one EHR system, has been successful in adopting EHRs for the following reasons:
- Its culture is geared toward performance goals, and a common technological platform is needed to do that
- Other staff conduct data entry of some of the more mundane work, freeing up physicians to focus more on patients
- It tracks performance metrics so that intervention can occur early if performance problems are identified
- Doctors can review their data on dashboards and meet monthly with their peers to go over that data
- Outcomes, not effort, are rewarded.
In a blog post on MedPage Today, internist Fred Pelzman, M.D. cited the HBR article and noted that while it helps to delegate some of the tasks of the EHRs, the systems remain too cumbersome to be truly effective.
"There exists an opportunity for us, as voices of reason in the healthcare discussion, to say enough is enough, and to bring back the health record to be just that, a place where we document our thought processes, what we learned, and what we taught our patients, and move all of the rest of that stuff off into another administrative world," Pelzman wrote. "If we fail to do this, if we continue to allow ourselves to have more and more pop-ups, click boxes, and alerts burden our electronic health record, we risk losing not only our humanity, not only our peace of mind ... but any ability to create a safe and effective documentation of the care we provide our patients with."
Physician satisfaction with EHR systems continues to be mixed.