Physicians are willing to work hard for smoother ICD-10, EHR transition

Much has been made about the troubles surrounding the transition to ICD-10, and while electronic health records are here to stay, there is serious doubt within the community of physicians that the changeover from the relatively paltry amount of codes in the current system will produce a net benefit for medical professionals. While the majority of practices are doing the best they can to prepare for the Oct. 1 deadline, new studies suggest that the vast majority of physicians would be willing to work even harder if it meant a chance to improve their EHR system from a physician-usability standpoint.

Like it or not, the future is here
Though it took many years, electronic systems have finally permeated the initially harsh resistance to their implementation. The meaningful use initiative played a large role in incentivizing the shift, and physicians are starting to admit that the paradigmatic change to EHRs may not be a categorical negative to their work.

EHRIntelligence spoke to Reid Conant, M.D., an ER physician at the Tri-City Medical Center in California, who explained that while physicians may not be signing EHRs' praises, they are beginning to acknowledge the good they can do.

"There is an openness that has not been there in the past," Conant said. "I'd say there is a varying degree of active preparation along with an expected degree of denial from physicians."

Conant explained how in a recent presentation on computerized physician order entries five years ago, he faced open hostility from his audience of physicians. Now, though, that sentiment has changed.

"What the doctors are feeling now seems to be a greater degree of openness, of willingness to accept assistance both in process improvement, as well as technology, because they've seen the benefits of CPOE," Conant told EHRIntelligence.

It is no surprise that physicians do not like feeling like they are sometimes reduced to data entry. Conant has emphasized this this is likely a temporary hiccup in the widespread adoption of EHR systems in conjunction with the fevered switch to ICD-10. The growing willingness among physicians to make the trend toward new technologies work for them is something that Conant sees  as a promising step forward.

Not taking the easy way out
Conant may have been underselling the willingness among physicians to work with EHR systems that are giving them so many headaches. A recent report from Nuance Communications found a serious disconnect in the interest doctors had in the growing role of technology in their profession and the level of control they had in its implementation.

The modern resistance to EHR implementation does not seem to be aimed at the overall concept of it, but its implementation – 71 percent of physicians surveyed said they would be more timely with their responses to coders if the requests came within a window of time natural to their workflow. When a patient has left and the physician has moved on to another, it can be difficult to accurately recall the circumstances of a diagnosis from hours or days earlier.

Moreover, 88 percent of surveyed doctors indicated that for a period of up to nine months, they would take a voluntary salary decrease, treat fewer patients and work longer hours in order to have a hand in the implementation of EHR in their professions.

Conant explained that these figures stem from accountability. Regardless of any errors made by coders on the backend, the result of patient care rests with physicians.

"They know that these requirements are coming and they're going to have to meet the level of necessary detail and documentation one way or the other," Conant told EHRIntelligence. "So they'd rather do it upfront, when the case and the patient details are in their minds, as opposed to hours, days, or weeks later. So they see that as a net time savings."