Let’s be honest, the electronic health record (EHR) can be a nightmare. They are often poorly designed and inconsistent. In the past, doctors have reported that they represent an unnecessarily large burden on their working life.
Jesse M Ehrenfeld MD, is an associate professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Tennessee. He recently told the Medical Economics publication, “If you were to start from scratch, you wouldn’t come up with the systems we have today.” We think he’s right.
EHRs dominate doctors’ work hours. They add to the already large administrative workload they are tasked with each day, and they are often a source of irritation when patients want to move to different areas of the healthcare system.
How can we improve the EHR system?
Make electronic systems easier to use
In general, systems nowadays are fairly intuitive – particularly for the IT literate generation that make up our population of junior doctors and allied health professionals. Some systems are innately clunky though. Certain reports cannot always be generated without contact with another system or institution. Let’s make a conscious effort to make the next iteration of EHRs easy to use.
Avoid replication of effort
The amount of information held in EHRs and other health-system records is vast, and there’s no doubt that clinicians are having to duplicate figures throughout. Surely 2017 is the year we can use a simple copy & paste within the system itself?
Create a seamless system
When patients move between arms of the healthcare system, their EHRs often do not follow with such ease. This must be our priority for improvement going forward. This wouldn’t require a complete overhaul – just data that is coded in the same language.
Build in better analytics to help improve care
EHRs could actually take some work from the shoulders of doctors. We could incorporate algorithms to link with patients’ wearable devices, giving alerts to their clinical team when stats begin to dip. At the very least we could build in analytics to flag patients who aren’t responding well to treatment.
Incorporate new technology
EHRs are lagging behind the rest of the tech world. In an ideal world, they would incorporate mobile technologies, voice recognition, imaging and telemedicine.
Don’t get us wrong, EHRs are brilliant – and the UK is ahead of a lot of the rest of the world. We’re tech-lovers though, so there’s always room for improvement. Our top priority is a seamless system, once that’s in place we can start incorporating new technology.