The prevalence of electronic health records reveals the ubiquity of technology in healthcare. From its inception in the late 20th century to today, EHRs remain a staple part of any hospital. However, with the development of new and polished medical technology such as robotic surgery and Telehealth, the age of EHRs are beginning to show. While the benefits of patient record management software are undeniable, EHRs are not immune to criticism, or improvement.
Hindrances of the EHR
The usage of EHRs have made significant contributions to physician burnout. According to an article published on the NCBI website, pressure related to EHR-based tasks (data-encoding, information-gathering over physical care, etc) fosters a risk of burnout, among other risks, including the chance of misdiagnosis brought about by misclicking EHR boxes. The impersonal nature of EHRs, coupled by limited time spent interacting with patients, alienates physicians from their main task as health providers. Instead of prioritizing patient care, doctors are relegated to doing clerical EHR work with their back turned (literally and figuratively) to the people they swore an oath to assist.
Considering the innovations in medical technology available in the current year, solutions to EHRs’ issues are not impossible to formulate. Implementing said improvements, however, is a different story, as EHR companies and the current business-based medical environment might not be readily accepting of changes. However, if such change can be encouraged, then it might occur in several ways:
A better interface: The box-clicking, bill-focused interface of EHRs reduces the capacity of doctors to connect with patients. Another article by Andrew George Alexander, MD and Kenneth Alan Ballou, MD suggests the usage of voice-recognition EHRs, which provides a less menial computing activity for medical practitioners.
Let patients hold their medical data: Another way to facilitate better EHRs is to give patients agency concerning their medical data. Providing patients with their own electronic health record software lets them store, receive and transfer medical records with ease, removing the possibility of EHR-based record redundancy. SyncMD is one such app that can allow patients to become the custodians of their medical data.
Medical A.I. clerks: Aside from speeding up diagnosis via high-speed data analysis, Medical A.I. can serve as a data scribe, transcribing conversations and doing all the clerical work that is thrust upon physicians. Such an A.I. can allow physicians to reconnect with patients, having the burden of clerical work lifted from them. Eric Topol, MD discusses the possible solutions of medical A.I. in his book Deep Medicine, published March 2019.
EHRs help reduce needless paperwork, and streamlines other processes that would otherwise consume too much time. However, it is not without its faults, namely its role in the alienation of physicians from the people they are trying to heal. Improving EHRs can help doctors and patients give and receive better care.