How doctors feel about electronic medical records: Not good

Have I mentioned how frustrated I get by my clinic’s EMR? Totally slow, inefficient, I apologize on a regular basis to patients, “I’m sorry, my mind can only work on one thing at a time, I need to put this order in then I’ll talk to you again.” I find myself banging the keyboard when the system goes down.

I’m not the only doctor with, at best, mixed feelings about working with my clinic’s EMR. Too often, charting takes longer and doctors are unhappier.
Dr. John M calls EMRs “A Good Idea Gone Bad,” naming them a farce and demanding a public conversation about government’s heavy investment for the widespread adoption of inefficient systems that don’t talk to each other.
Dr. Kevin Pho notes that EMRs block patient interaction, and further notes that projections of their cost-saving potential were based on a single study by the RAND corporation that it now admits was overstated.
In the “Doccupy” movement, doctors in Contra Costa County, California, brought to the county commissioner their concerns about decreased patient loads and increased wait times due to an inefficient computer system–the physician actions on behalf of the 99%, negatively impacted by a bad EMR.

EMR’s slow patient care. Fewer patients are seen, and doctors are more frustrated.

Not all EMRs are created equal. Some are faster, easier, more efficient. Others not so much. Others drag the system interminably.

Dr. Jan Gurley provides a series of investigative questions that journalists should ask in this great blog post.

  • How long are patient wait times in your area?
  • How has the adoption of EMRs impacted patient access?
  • Who pays how much for the EMRs?
  • How were contracts decided?
  • What was the alternative?
  • How were they rolled out?

We need to ask the hard questions.
And find the easy answers.

Which EMR systems work? Which ones don’t?

Which should never be subsidized by public money because they do a disservice to the public?

We need to create a system to keep ineffective EMRs from ending up on the market. We need effective tools to keep doctors happy and provide good patient care.

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