The digitization of healthcare expects to bring more personalized, efficient care at lower costs. However, this transition has also created some challenges as the healthcare industry works to embrace emerging technologies
These challenges are especially apparent to clinicians, who find the reporting requirements of EHRs to be particularly burdensome. Not only do these demands limit their focus on patients, but they are also leading to burnout for physicians.
EHRs aren’t going anywhere, however, so healthcare CIOs are working to leverage new technologies to minimize their burdens and maximize their value.
Current EHR Limitations
Clinicians experience a variety of issues when working with EHRs, which cause burnout and limit their ability to provide proper care:
- Patient Interactions: The EHR forces clinicians to focus on tablet or computer screens, which subsequently reduces their time engaging with patients. This shift makes clinicians appear aloof and uncaring. This is bad enough, but reducing patient interactions will likely reduce the quality of care. Clinicians are not in tune with a patient’s concerns or needs. The EHR makes patients bystanders when they should be the center of the care experience.
- Longer Hours: Clinicians find it difficult to care for patients while also fulfilling EHR data entry requirements in the span of a regular workday. Completing work afterhours ruins the work-life balance and having around-the-clock access to digital information could further exacerbate this issue.
- Maintenance: It takes a significant amount of time and labor to effectively train staff, and EHRs can be expensive to maintain.
- Design Issues: Poor design means EHRs often aren’t very intuitive. Simple data entry tasks might take much longer to complete than necessary, which is time-consuming and very frustrating for the user.
Eliminating These Limitations
Smarter processes and emerging technologies are the solutions to these EHR issues. Simplifying data entry and refocusing clinicians on patient interactions will greatly improve quality of care. These factors will contribute to eliminating current EHR limitations:
- Personalized, intelligent user interfaces will ease data entry. Additionally, new technologies will enable automated data capture so clinicians can spend more time interacting with patients.
- Dedicated scribes may be used to record patient data during interactions to ensure the clinician can always engage directly with patients. This would also minimize after-hours reporting and promote a better work-life balance.
- Documentation may become more team-focused where appropriate. Other members of the care team, like RNs and medical assistants, may be required to complete some of the documentation that clinicians currently handle.
As healthcare becomes more analytics-driven, clinicians are expected to have more data at their fingertips. However, more data isn’t valuable unless it can be used to feed clinicians actionable insights through the EHR.
Next-generation analytics and machine learning are expected to do the heavy lifting to ensure users are given the right data at the right time to improve clinical decisions. These technologies will ensure clinicians can stay focused on patients, but with added assurance that the technologies are also helping them deliver better care.