Are EHRs a help or hindrance to patient care?

March 21, 2014

Urologists' opinions on EHR systems vary, as some feel that they're helpful in large systems where paper records are not always on hand, while others lament the lost time spent communicating face-to-face with patients.

“Personally, I don’t think they help much. They might help if we had universal access, but the same notes that took me 2 minutes to write and gave me a lot of time to spend with the patient, now take me a significant amount of time dealing with the computer. Patients aren’t as satisfied because instead of face-to-face time with me, I’m punching buttons in the computer.

It also creates an extra burden on physicians in terms of workload. Also, we’re very computer dependent, I guess by definition. We depend on the Internet and the lines of communication, and something always seems to go wrong. You have to have computer people involved and something that used to take five to six lines in the doctor’s notes-which was enough for a subspecialist to carry on-we now completely depend on the computer functioning properly.”

Ilya Alexander Volfson, MD

Ridley Park, PA

 

Dr. Garzotto“The VA was an early adopter of EHRs. There was a lot of resistance when it started, but they had data… that in a large hospital system like we have, only 60% of the time did we actually have the chart when a patient came in for a visit. We had to proceed on the patient’s verbal history or what we remembered of the case.

EHRs have changed what is demanded from physicians. Because records can be easily coded to send off to insurance companies, there needs to be a balance between taking care of patients and doing the proper documentation. EHRs do take away from the doctor/patient interaction, but what you lose in interaction you gain on the documentation side.”

Mark Garzotto, MD

Portland, OR

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Dr. Jones“Our group has been using EHRs for over 10 years. It’s a major help. We’ve transitioned from one system to another and that’s always challenging, especially for older partners who aren’t as computer savvy. But our practice has five offices, so if a patient goes to the wrong office, we still have all the information.

I agree 100% that EHRs interfere with the face-to-face relationship with patients. When the group went to EHR, one of the biggest struggles I had to tackle was the lack of eye-to-eye contact. We try to address that by having our medical assistants populate much of the information, including some of the history of present illness, so we don’t have to click on everything. That certainly allows me to interact with the patient a bit more.

At the end of the day, this is the future of medicine. You can fight it, but that’s not going to do anything, or you can try to figure out ways to make it work.”

LeRoy A. Jones, MD

San Antonio

 

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