4 Reasons Why EHR Software is Still Terrible

Evaluating a technology’s potential to transform an industry can be a slippery slope on which to tread. Get caught up in the hype of technological potential and more often than not one will end up disappointed, It’s just the disjointed nature of technology development as a cumulative process built on a deep foundation of trial and error.

EHR software is currently undergoing these same growing pains. Think of EHR as that moody teenager who shows flashes of promise in between those long stretches of utter self-absorbed uselessness. EHR is that teenager who with a little maturity could become a model citizen after a bit of proper development and undergoing the process of learning through trial and error.

The View of Practice CIOs

An online survey of hospital chief information officers conducted by Frost and Sullivan reveals that despite progress in EHR adoption, providers continue to experience problems with the software. So what is it about EHR software that drives the healthcare industry crazy?

1. Reliable information retrieval at the point-of-care - Users cite problems during information retrieval from EHRs. Further users cited difficulty in finding and reviewing data.

2. EHRS are too slow and lack precision in information retrieval - In the survey users cited problems related to conducting targeted queries of information within EHR records. Further, the survey noted that users had trouble retrieving unstructured data such as information on unstructured paper forms, audio voice dictations, email messages and attachments, and typed transcriptions.

Given that EHR is central to modernizing the US health care system, it remains to be seen how much tolerance the healthcare community will have for EHR’s growing pains.

3. Rudimentary search functionality and poor usability - Many EHRs suffer from search function problems such as the inability to create targeted queries resulting in a time consuming, innacurate and cumbersome search process.

4. Time-consuming data entry tasks - Entering data into an EHR system was hampered by a difficult interface that often resulted in data entry being delayed after patient contact. This is significant particularly when data in an EHR system relies on nuanced data collected “in the moment.”

A Disjointed Process

The process of technological development is often a disjointed one that experiences its share of false starts and failed concepts, each of which build upon each other until the technology becomes better, it evolves and (in theory) is better than the previous iteration.

Recommended Reading: EHR Vendor Directory - Ensure Your Vendor Knowledge is 100% Accurate

If this is not the case, we may have to endure a few bad cycles of development to get to that truly wonderful product. As consumers of technology, we are forced to suffer through the bad to get to the good. Yes, it is frustrating, particularly if you are on the bad end of bad EHRs.

The problem is this trial and error process costs health care millions. A survey conducted by Medical Economics provides insight into this problem. The survey found “65% of respondents say their EHR systems resulted in financial losses for the practice.” When EHR is viewed as a financial burden due to serious difficulties in its operation, these attitudes are certainly worth noting. Given that EHR is central to modernizing the US health care system, it remains to be seen how much tolerance the healthcare community will have for EHR’s growing pains.

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Jeff Green

About the author…

Jeff Green, MPH, JD works as a freelance writer and consultant in the Healthcare information Technology Space.

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Jeff Green