March 26, 2012
Apple has taken the world by a storm as it releases product after product that enhances consumers’ abilities to complete tasks: surf the internet, listen to music, take notes, track health, pay bills, etc. Many doctors are using smartphones and tablets to complement their daily tasks, and this trend will likely escalate as EHRs continue to develop in the mobile sphere.
Even though Apple has not tapped into the electronic health records market, EHRs and EHR apps have demonstrated the same creativity and innovation that Apple products are known for. An EHR powered by voice technology is nearly as easy to navigate as an iPad application and is a useful—no, necessary—tool to improve physician productivity. Just as the smartphone allows even a kid to quickly find directions to the nearest McDonalds or Google the answer to a trivia question, an EHR allows a provider to quick access patient charts and send referrals. An EHR should do more than eliminate paper; it should speed up routine procedures like note documentation, referral reply, and e-prescribing, among a variety of other tasks.
Realistically, any EHR will require some training before go-live. But it is reasonable for doctors to expect to make basic use of the EHR right away and to be able to find and use all of its functions soon. Doctors will be able to navigate through a good EHR on their own after a short demo. The EHR should already do the things doctors need it to do, and learning the technology should have minimal impact on productivity during the familiarization period.
If a doctor can’t figure out how new technology like an EHR fits with their workflow, they are looking at the wrong EHR and they obviously won’t realize the complete benefits. Even government stimulus money won’t change the fact that some EHRs don’t help doctors.
The best EHRs are akin to revolutionary Apple inventions in their benefits for medicine and their ease of use. Apple hasn’t designed an EHR, and they don’t need to; good EHRs designed from the bottom up with constant physician input already take full advantage of technology to aid doctors and office staff every day.