Unhappy With Your EHR? Here's How to Improve the Situation

Ronald B. Sterling, MBA


January 17, 2013

In This Article

Who Needs to Know What?

From a training perspective, you need to assign a couple of your practice employees to become in-house experts on the various aspects of using EHRs, which includes understanding the clinical content as well as the work in your environment. You have to protect that to make sure that you use the system on a consistent basis.

When doctors become disillusioned with the EHR, it could be because they don't know how to use it correctly, or in some cases they are not maintaining it correctly. If they are not sitting down on a daily basis and saying, "Have I done all the work? Have I documented all the information I need into my EHR?" then the EHR will become problematic. They will almost be undermining the efficacy and the accuracy of the EHR records.

If that is the problem, in order to fix it, the practice has to invest the time up front for the doctors and the staff to become knowledgeable and comfortable enough with the EHR so that they can get in front of a patient and use it.

In some cases, vendors say to the doctors, "Here is your EHR, here are a few hours of training; go treat a patient." Then we are surprised when the doctor's focus becomes the EHR. They are not looking at the patient. Or they will turn their backs on patients so they can document something on a workstation in the corner of the room. All of these things undermine the connection with the patient.

Not Enjoyable for the Doctor

It's not a pleasant experience for the doctor either, because the doctor thinks, "I've become a data-entry clerk." If staff put in enough effort up front to become knowledgeable about how the EHR works so that they can integrate it into their style of interacting with patients, it's going to be a very good experience.

If I go in and give them a very short training timeframe, they won't be familiar or comfortable with it, and when I make them use it when they see every single patient, it's not going to be a very pleasant experience. You have to glide into using the EHR. Make it a positive experience throughout the implementation process. Make sure that you are monitoring it so you can measure your success. You don't want to turn around and say, "We were not successful because we made all of these mistakes." Before setting up very specific mechanisms and asking everyone else to jump in, verify that the mechanisms will work in your practice.