Should You Drop Your EHR?

greener grass

Hate your EHR so much that you want to bolt for greener pastures? Think twice before you ditch your EHR for another system. The grass may not be greener on the other side, experts say.

Physicians hate their EHR’s for many reasons, and this Rand study sums them up:

  • Data entry takes forever, so much so that “scribe” is a 21st-century career no one could have predicted.
  • EHR workflow may be counter to what actually happens in your practice.
  • Peering at a computer screen kills your “bedside manner.”
  • Many EHRs don’t “play well with others,” and as EHR systems evolve, they are less likely to collaborate.
  • Interoperability among practices, ASCs, hospitals, and other facilities is sub-par.
  • Advancing Care Information (the MIPS version of what used to be Meaningful Use) isn’t actually advancing your patient care.
  • EHRs cost a lot, and often don’t sync well with the RCM systems you’ve set up to bring the money in.
  • Templates. Blech.

But don’t assume that buying a new system will solve your EHR woes, cautions Michelle Holmes, a consultant and MGMA presenter. EHR developers haven’t had bandwidth to focus on the things that have been bugging you about your current system, Why? Over the past several years, practice management systems have scrambled to change, getting  ready for stuff like ICD-10, Stage 3 of Meaningful Use, and now the Quality Payment Program. It will be a whole different market 18 months from now when EHR developers have had time to focus on usability, work flow, and the other things you care about to do your job, Holmes predicts.

If you choose to replace your EHR, you’re going to spend not only money but time. Plan on 12-24 months to select a system, draw up a contract, implement it, and train staff, warns Holmes. Most importantly, a new EHR system won’t fix some of the things practices hate most about EHRs, warns practice manager Taraq Mazher, also an MGMA presenter. Most practices haven’t taken the steps necessary to optimize what they already have.

Replacing Your EHR: Essential Questions

Before you decide to replace your EHR, ask yourself (and your current vendor) these questions, Holmes and Mazher urge:

  • Have you turned on all the “bells and whistles?”
  • Do you have the right IT support staff? (Most practices Holmes works with are understaffed and/or staffed with the wrong people for the job.)
  • Was your staff properly trained?
  • Have you taken advantage of all available upgrades?
  • Can you modify or replace templates that aren’t working for your clinicians?
  • Would a good voice-recognition plug-in help the clinicians who hate keyboard pecking?

If your answer to one or more of these questions is “no,” there are likely ways to make your current system better. Here’s how to get started. Can’t stand your current EHR? Follow this guide to select a new one.

Photo Credit: Alvesgaspar. CC BY-SA 4.0

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