If you were to design your perfect EHR, it is highly unlikely that it would be exactly like your colleague’s ideal EHR. In reality, it’s doubtful that the perfect EHR exists for any doctor, one that takes into account their unique charting style, system preferences, exchange needs, and ease of use requirements.
But even if the perfect EHR doesn’t exist, you still shouldn’t be a slave to your EHR. Many doctors who use point-and-click EHRs feel like their job role has changed to data-entry clerk, which isn’t exactly what their advanced degrees prepared them for.
Some EHR vendors do a good job of soliciting physician input when developing their products, especially EHRs geared toward specialists. Picking the right EHR in the first place is the most important part of the implementation process. If you pick an EHR vendor with experience outside your specialty, the learning curve is much steeper. Specialty-specific EHRs have functions that are already customized for your workflow and will be easier to master.
But physicians have more control than they might think over how to make their EHR work for them. In most cases, the physicians who are happiest with their electronic health records solution are the ones who (1) take the time to learn the system fully and (2) take full advantage of the EHR’s capabilities, from learning common shortcuts to customizing the software to fit their unique workflow more appropriately.
Many practices who have had difficult EHR experiences wish they would have spent more time on training before going live. Taking shortcuts at the beginning is never a good idea. Learn the software first, and then focus on time-saving techniques.
Once you’ve found a nice work balance with your EHR, it actually can make your job easier. Voice-driven EHRs allow you to document your notes much faster than you can scribble down notes on paper (in as little as 90 seconds), ordering prescriptions and sending referral replies is speedy, and with everything electronic, you’ll always have more timely and convenient access to records whenever you need them.
EHRs don’t have to be the bane of your existence. As technology improves and EHRs become more widespread, doctors and EHRs are getting better at working together.