There May Be Mixed Feelings About Electronic Health Records In Your Practice–Here’s How To Overcome Them
Picture this: it’s family dinner night and everyone is gathered around the table. With food served and conversation flowing, you glance around the table at your family. To your disdain, you notice one of your children texting on their phone. While they promise they are listening to everything being said, you can’t help but feel they are disengaged.
Every day this same instance happens over and over again. Except it’s not just in your dining room—it’s happening in your medical practice, too.
During a consultation, visit or exam, patients want to feel like they are being listened to. However, when a computer screen interrupts face-to-face time, it’s hard to keep patients satisfied.
This ever-growing problem within the medical industry causes issues for doctors, too. Physicians don’t want to spend their day documenting information behind a computer screen–especially when it can negatively impact patient care.
Although, the computer isn’t always the one to blame! What doctors mainly struggle with are electronic health records, or, EHR. While EHR is inevitably the future of health care, doctors are experiencing mixed feelings when it comes to electronic health records.
But, there is a way all of this can be avoided! Computers and EHRs are nothing to fear, and can actually be quite beneficial to your practice when implemented correctly. To help shed a little light on EHRs, here are some of the struggles your physicians may face, as well as the benefits of using EHR computers systems in your practice.
Why Physicians Likely Struggle With Computers
There are multiple reasons why physicians struggle with their computers and EHR. Most practices have used one computer system for years, so it’s difficult to adapt to something new.
In other cases, excess computer usage results in limitations to the physician’s work and personal life. Regardless of the situation, here are some of the most common reasons physicians don’t like being on their computers.
Results in a lack of face-to-face time
In the texting at dinner example, it’s easy to see why parents feel their kids are disengaged, or not paying attention. In the exam room, it’s no different. When a physician is constantly typing and clicking on a computer, it’s hard for them to engage in valuable face-to-face time with the patient.
This impacts patient care and overall patient satisfaction negatively. However, what is the physician to do? If they don’t take notes during the conversation, they could forget crucial information. Not to mention, the extra time it will take to add in the documentation after the fact.
Patients want to feel heard, and physicians want to feel present. However, having a computer screen in the way can hinder those feelings on both sides.
Alters work-life balance
To our previous point, physicians are almost never able to complete the required patient documentation during the workday. More often than not, physicians have to stay late or bring their computers home with them to complete the unfinished daily forms. This impacts a physician’s work-life balance in a detrimental way.
We’ve always heard “leave work at work”, but this is nearly impossible for healthcare workers to do. When lengthy documents can’t be completed in a timely manner, doctors are forced to bring work home with them, which cuts into their comparingly valuable personal time.
Impacts physician well-being
When your physicians’ work-life balance is negatively impacted, they may begin to experience physician burnout. This type of burnout comes from an increased workload, exhaustion, feelings of ineffectiveness and more. When physicians start to feel this way, it’s usually attributed to the tedious amounts of work required on their computers.
Excess computer usage can also cause less serious threats to overall well being. Some common side effects include neck pain, back pain, headaches, and eyestrain. While these may seem trivial, chronic back pain or daily headaches would be enough to make anyone miserable, especially a physician!
Consumes a physician’s valuable time
This is one of the top reasons physicians aren’t fond of their computers. Tasks for EHR are lengthy, and the clerical work involved is extremely time-consuming. The amount of administrative work alone is enough to keep a physician from seeing more patients throughout the day. This prevents physicians from doing what they love, which is taking care of patients. Instead, they’re stuck behind a computer screen taking notes, clicking tabs and checking boxes.
Not only does this decreased number of patients impact your physicians, but it affects your practice, too. In order to continue to grow, you need to be seeing more patients, rather than less. However, if your physicians are constantly tied up with digital documentation, this goal can be difficult to achieve.
How Computers Actually Assist Your Physicians
While it may be hard to realize at times, there is a reason your practice decided to go electronic in the first place! To help you understand why computers don’t have to be a bad thing, here are some of the benefits of using EHR in your practice:
Provide detailed patient notes
While the documentation process may seem extreme, the result is more detailed and accurate patient information. This is extremely beneficial when it comes to submitting a medication request or prescribing treatments.
The detailed nature of files within EHR helps eliminate user error, too. For example, someone may not be able to read a physician’s handwriting and could accidentally prescribe the incorrect thing. Or, a physician could forget key points about a patient and leave them out of the patient’s file.
These detailed notes will help all members of your practice, too. As long as their username and password grant them access, anyone who needs access can view patient data and get caught up on the necessary care needs.
Ability to monitor status of current patients
Having access to patient information from your computer makes checking on the status of current patients much easier too. This allows physicians to log on and pull up current prescriptions, diagnoses, treatments and more to keep them in the loop on provided care.
Check available inventory
It’s important for doctors to know what medicines are available before they prescribe them. To check, they simply have to look at the current inventory in their EHR. This is a huge asset to physicians because if they prescribe something that is out of stock, it could prolong the healing process for the patient. However, through EHR a physician would be able to see if a certain medication is out of stock, and then opt for a comparable option to maintain proper patient care and get the patient on the road to recovery.
Communicate with your team and patients
EHR also allows you to communicate with your team. Since matching up hectic schedules isn’t always possible, this computer function allows you to quickly and efficiently communicate with teammates. This type of collaboration is crucial for quality patient care, so the ability to share patient data between team members is a huge benefit.
Physicians can also electronically communicate with patients through EHR. In most cases, patients can set up a patient portal and gain access to their medical information, diagnoses, treatments, and medications. This allows physicians another way to strengthen the patient-provider relationship and continue building trust with their patients.
Personalize to fit your practice
What many practices don’t realize is that EHR is customizable. Personalized settings within your EHR can make it unique to your practice and its needs. The way your practice operates will be different than how another does, so take advantage of these settings to make your EHR work uniquely for your practice.
How A Medical Transcription Service Can Bridge The Gap
Between the frustrations and benefits of computers and EHR software, it’s hard to find a strong balance. However, we can offer a solution: hire a medical transcription service.
But how can a medical transcription service help you bridge the gap? The answer is simple. When you hire a team of medical transcriptionists to take over your documentation, your physicians won’t have to worry about face-to-face time with patients, or work-life balance when it comes to EHR.
Medical transcription can take away the burdens of computer screens and EHRs by working within the systems for you. Your physicians will get their time back, patient care will improve and your practice will benefit from the increased levels of proficiency.
DataMatrix Medical has the solution
At DataMatrix Medical, we take medical transcription one step further. We devote a team of highly skilled medical transcriptionists to your practice who will complete your transcriptions accurately and quickly—within 24 hours, actually!
Our team will take the time to get to know your practice, so we can integrate seamlessly into your current EHR. We want to help your physicians focus less on a computer screen and more on patient care. By giving your physicians their time back, you’re guaranteed to notice a difference in the effectiveness of your practice.
No one wants to struggle with computers, especially your physicians. Let us help your practice see what the DataMatrix Difference is all about! Sign up for a free two-week trial today to test us out. Your practice, physicians and patients will be thankful you did.
Curious about the best practices for optimizing clinical productivity? Download our free guide, How To Optimize Clinical Productivity Through Outsourcing below!
Nathaniel Smathers, is contributor to the DataMatrix Medical blog with a background in healthcare content creation for over a decade. Nathaniel has a passion for exploring the intersections of healthcare, data analysis, and digital innovation.