The costs of poor EHRs

Electronic health records can be greatly beneficial to providers, improving patient care and communication, as well as reducing medical errors. However, because the certification process is so simple and easily attainable, there are hundreds of EHRs out there that are not as efficient as they could be. The cost of a poorly functioning EHR can have a large impact on both the patient and the provider. 

Effects of poor EHRs

  • Worsening patient care:

– Properly functioning EHRs can significantly improve providers' ability to treat their patients, enabling physician-patient engagement. However, poor EHR designs get in the way of face-to-face interaction due to features such as pop-up reminders, cumbersome menus and poor user interfaces that make EHRs far more time-consuming than paper charts. 

– According to a 2014 national survey conducted by research firm MPI Group, 45 percent of family practices indicated that poor EHRs have worsened patient care. 

  • Poor patient engagement:

– EHRs are meant to enhance patient understanding with regard to their current health and the ways to stay healthy. One of the meaningful use goals is to promote public and population health. EHRs with poor user interfaces do the opposite.

– Some EHRs are difficult to access and navigate, confusing patients and turning them away from electronic access instead of increasing interoperability between EHR systems and patients' mobile technologies.

  • Safety issues:

– Some of the most widely reported issues by providers include data transmission between different areas of the EHR in which a change in one part of the system inadvertently changes integral aspects in another part of the system. 

– The most commonly identified problem is EHR information display issues, misrepresenting data.

– Several system glitches emerge after software upgrades, causing clinical decision support to suddenly stop working.

– There are many cases of input error that the system did not catch or alerts that should have gone out that were missed.

  • Increased workload:

– Compared to written notes, EHRs require more documentation from the physicians before, during and after a patient visit. For fast-working, reliable EHRs, doctors will benefit from a more robust documentation, providing additional information for the coders that may justify a higher level of service being billed.

– Slower, unreliable EHRs can cause delays and errors.

– Systems that do not alert providers or catch mistakes also cause a lot of backtracking and time to fix the errors.

Make sure that your EHR system is benefiting you and your patients by ensuring that it is comprised of a user-friendly interface and reliable alerts that allow you to enhance patient outcomes and see high rates of return on your investment.