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How to Prevent Problems with Electronic Health Records

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Prevent problems with electronic health records

As of 2015, 78% of office-based physicians were using electronic health records.

Even with the great benefits that offices can get when they use these record-keeping software services, there are still issues that come up.

Some of the problems with electronic health records create big issues for practices. This is especially true without the proper interventions to solve the issue.

If you want to know about some of the problems with these records and what you should consider when using an electronic health record, keep reading to learn more.

Potential Problems with Electronic Health Records

While electronic health records are meant to make things easier, there are times when they don’t work as they should. There are a variety of reasons for this, including human error or system issues, but some problems are more common than others.

A facility that is switching from paper records to electronic records can face unique issues. These will mostly depend on the staff, use of technology in other areas, and willingness to learn new technology.

As you can see, these factors are important in figuring out the software and knowing how to navigate it. Technology can be challenging for some people, but understanding electronic health records are important for confidentiality and security.

Here are some of the problems that may come up in a facility that tries to use an electronic health record.

Visual Display

With some electronic health record software options, the visibility on your screen can be an issue.

Small text, hard-to-read fonts, or a cluttered screen can lead to frustration and confusion for users. A physician trying to find specific information about a patient won’t want to sift through a cluttered screen to find it.

Not only does this create a problem between the user and the system, but it also decreases the time that physicians are spending with patients.

Part of the issue can be owed to the fact that the facility purchased that specific software, but it’s also more of a common problem than you may think.

Too Expensive

When a practice tries to implement a new electronic health record, it can be a problem for providers and for the practice itself. The reason for this is simple: the cost.

If you are an independent practice that doesn’t have a lot of the resources a large facility would have, the financial burden can be even greater.

The practice has to purchase the software for the electronic health record, but they also have to conduct training, employ IT support staff, and demand the time to implement the change.

The training may be difficult for certain employees and this means that there is more time needed for learning how to use the software. This takes time away from patients and from overall care.

While the benefit can be strong in the long run, you have to consider if you have the time and resources for this type of undertaking now. It may be something that is easier for you to input in a few years once your practice is stronger.

If your staff is having trouble with the electronic health record, they are more likely to create errors in the system. The tool works when you are able to use it well, but if not, it can be a very risky situation for a physician’s practice.

Available Information

If there are instances when information that is relevant to a patient is not stored in the right place or cannot be accessed, this is a huge issue.

An example of this would be if a staff member was unable to access part of the patient’s health record due to holds or securities, but they needed this information to see if a test had been performed or not performed.

Due to the lack of information, the tests may not end up getting ordered because of a minor misunderstanding. This can lead to problems with patients, especially those that are dealing with serious medical issues.

People cannot do their jobs properly in a medical setting if they don’t have the information they need. Without it, the electronic health record is actually making their job harder.

Burnout of Physicians

When physicians become burnt out, they are more likely to make mistakes.

As many as half of the physicians out there, according to a study, experience burnout in their profession. This is a pretty significant number when it comes to patient safety and patient satisfaction.

Electronic health records can actually contribute to this rate of burnout. If the user interface is difficult to use, physicians are going to be less inclined to complete their records as they should.

Clearly, this is an issue in the profession that needs to be addressed separately. However, using an electronic health record can make those problems worse and this is something any office would want to avoid.

In addition to this, electronic health records can make it easier for physicians to spend less time with patients and less time on personal communication. This can lead to less job satisfaction, as well as increased stress.

The biggest issue here is that it is easy to make mistakes when a physician is burnt out. These mistakes may be within the electronic health record or with their patients.

Ineffective Operation

One of the big problems that people will see when they are trying to use electronic health records is communication between systems. This is when they are not able to exchange and make use of information.

These systems are not always compatible with other programs. If you have to use a separate program, it needs to be able to speak with the electronic health record in your office.

Otherwise, people don’t get the entire patient medical history. This is crucial for a physician to know the bigger picture and be accurate in their work.

If you can’t see all of the information you need, you are not going to be able to do your job well.

Forgetfulness of Users

People forget to do things they are supposed to do all the time. This is especially true for doctors that are working long hours and may have difficulty concentrating as it is.

Unless your facility has portable electronics that physicians can use for inputting electronic health records, it may be possible that they forget to put their notes in the system.

It’s easier for many physicians, especially those that have been doing the job for a long time, to carry around papers to write on and keep consistent notes. Not having notes for patient visits and information can lead to litigation.

Good documentation is crucial and electronic health records can help with this. It’s only going to work if physicians use them as they should.

Incorrect Input of Information

When a physician is not physically doing something or is not spending as much time on a task, they may not do everything entirely correctly. This is not the same as forgetting to do it, but instead, this is when a physician puts information where it should not be.

It may be easy for physicians that don’t understand the system to put important information in the wrong spot.

For instance, if there are a father and son with the same first and last name, a physician may accidentally upload documents under the wrong patient.

As you can imagine, this can easily create dire situations for patients. If patients don’t get the medication they need or the procedure done, it can be a problem for the practice.

This also can become an issue with confidentiality and may lead to several long-term issues with patients later.

Using Electronic Health Records

With any type of new technology, there may be issues that need to be sorted out. A good support team will help you implement new technology in your practice, but it takes effort on behalf of the staff as well.

There are many problems with electronic health records, but that isn’t to say that they don’t work well for plenty of medical practices.

With the right support, the right software, and the right training, your staff can use electronic records to their full capability.

Are you interested in using an electronic health record? If so, it is important to do your research and find the software that will fit in best in your medical facility.

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