Why doctors like to dislike electronic health records

Doctors like to dislike electronic health records (EHRs). Over the years, many surveys have tried to pinpoint the physicians who are more likely to be satisfied by their EHRs.


Neelesh Bhandari, MD “In medicine, patient data are the source of all decisions. Electronic health records make data retrieval easier, and thus the quality of patient service is enhanced.”
-Neelesh Bhandari, MD, physician entrepreneur focused on communication technology in healthcare and author of the blog Digital Medicine


Doctors here in India can learn from the experience of doctors in the United States, who are ahead of the curve in adopting the technology due to government incentives for[s2If !is_user_logged_in()]…

[/s2If][s2If is_user_logged_in()] adoption and a move toward health insurance reimbursements being paid at a higher rate for those physicians who use EHRs. A report on American Med News (www.amednews.com) examined the factors that affect physician satisfaction with EHR use.

Key Point: Electronic health records (EHRs) have both advantages and disadvantages that affect physician satisfaction. EHR use forces documentation that might otherwise by missed, and better documentation typically leads to more billable revenue. EHRs also mean that doctors can work from anywhere, anytime. However, EHRs do not guarantee greater productivity—in fact, during the transition period to electronic records, productivity can go down, and there also may be a residual effect.

Surveys have found that doctors in primary care or internal medicine are generally more satisfied with using EHRs than their colleagues in oncology or ophthalmology. Also, solo physicians were the most satisfied, and that satisfaction decreased as the practice size grew to 50 physicians. Physicians in 100% productivity-based practices were more satisfied than salaried physicians.

So what are the top reasons that some doctors like using EHRs?

  1. An electronic record forces documentation of many steps that might be otherwise missed. More thorough documentation of clinical visits leads to less leakage of revenue.
  2. In medicine, patient data are the source of all decisions. EHRs make data retrieval easier and thus the quality of patient service is enhanced.
  3. Doctors are no longer tied to their desks and can work from almost anywhere, anytime.

As many doctors are quick to point out, EHR adoption also comes with pain points:

  1. There is no guaranteed improvement in productivity. In fact, there could be a loss of productivity in the short term as a medical practice transitions from hard copy records to an EHR system.
  2. Some EHRs are badly designed and require too many steps/clicks for a relatively simple documentation procedure (eg, CPOE). Sometimes, important data may be difficult to find.
  3. The computer monitor and keyboard may not be a very likeable third party in the examination room. The high-tech equipment may be an obstacle to one-to-one relationship building between doctors and patients.

Nevertheless, EHRs are used widely and are here to stay. Insights into the reasons some EHRs are preferred over others can be an important advantage for many companies in this multi-billion-dollar industry.

Source: Dolan, PL. Doctors’ love-hate relationship with EHRs: By knowing what users say is good and bad about electronic health records, physicians in the market will have a better sense of what to look for. American Medical News. Published online May 7, 2012. Available at: http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/05/07/bisa0507.htm.

Neelesh Bhandari, MDDr. Bhandari is a physician entrepreneur focused on communication technology in medicine and healthcare. He is based in the New Delhi area of India and serves as Chief Consulting Officer of Digital MedCom Solutions. Dr. Bhandari also runs the blog Digital Medicine, which is focused on “Ensuring optimum use of technology in medicine.”

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2 Comments

  1. dr srikanth kamisetty
    Posted Apr 2014 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    it does not give eye contact of patient at a busy clinic while writing his records

  2. Arun Kumbhat
    Posted Jul 2015 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    It is only a matter of time and better UI design and once proficiency is achieved Eye contact will not be a problem.
    The patient may on the other hand have higher confidence in a doctor who records information diligently.

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