Like other technologies, the electronic medical record (EMR) has immense potential for good but can be cumbersome without proper training. Many physicians feel frustrated with these systems that consume two thirds of their time with tedious data entries.
Of course, their frustrations are totally understandable. A provider’s tool is only as good as its contribution to patient care. With doctors spending more time on patient records than on the patients themselves, it makes sense that American physicians have always been hesitant to these implementations. There are benefits to these systems, however, like the accessibility of information, the ability to share it with others providers, the ease with which they can keep patients informed and much more.
For better or worse, the digital push is inescapable. Government initiatives have incentivized facilities nationwide to implement EMRs. The CDC reports that 86.9 percent of office-based physicians use these systems, but almost 70 percent of them believe EMRs are inefficient and unworthy of the estimated $200,000 per facility cost. In other words, over 80 percent of physicians who use EMR systems dislike them. The technology has room for improvement to say the least, but the real source of the problem lies in the implementation.
The Source of EMR Problems
Traditionally, EMR implementations are executed by health IT trainers and analysts through government institutions like Regional Extension Centers (RECs). These professionals know everything from “vendor selection and workflow analysis to implementation and meaningful use.”
Whether that’s actually the case is questionable though. How can these trainers have a clear understanding of a provider’s workflow and meaningful applications of the technology if they don’t work in a clinical setting? It’s the equivalent of a Spanish instructor trying to teach an engineer how to do her job in Spanish. No wonder physicians feel at odds with the very technology that is meant to help them.
Unfortunately, the problem worsens as the technology becomes more expansive and sophisticated. Every update involves a new learning curve, and these digital health platforms will only become more interoperable and demanding. Physicians who struggle with the tech now won’t find any resolve in the years to come. This phenomenon could devastate healthcare with higher rates of physician burnout and shortages, as well as comprise the quality of patient care.
Why Healthcare Needs EMR Physician Champions
Healthcare needs doctors who have extensive EMR experience to lead it out of this crisis. Such doctors are called EMR physician champions. They have an intimate understanding of the technology and best use applications for the clinical setting, so they can make these EMR systems feel more relevant and accessible to their fellow providers.
At ICON, we’ve developed a network of EMR physician champions to help facilities nationwide implement and optimize their EMR systems. Unlike traditional health IT trainers, physician champions work side-by-side with other providers to show them the most successful approach to using this technology.
As digital health veterans, these champions have worked with various EMR systems, from Cerner to EPIC and more. They provide extensive hands-on training for three to six months typically but can stay onsite for however long a facility needs them.
Facilities favor this strategy over hiring costly IT trainers who overwhelm their providers with information only to leave them feeling intimidated and frustrated. EMR physician champions are healthcare’s best hope of bridging providers with their technology.