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EHR Documentation Burden

Excessive EHR documentation prevents health care providers from doing their jobs. Far too many physicians are stuck with clunky EHRs that force them to concentrate more on clicks than care.

The problem: Most EHRs have focused on record-keeping—usually for compliance purposes—rather than assisting providers and, in turn, their patients. Until EHRs become more than just data entry vehicles, the industry won’t make significant progress improving health care delivery. In September 2014, the American Medical Association called for a “major overhaul of EMR systems to make usability and high-quality patient care a higher priority.”1

Before the widespread use of EHRs, physicians relied on the notes they used to write on 3x5-inch index cards. The process wasn’t perfect, but it led to concise, useful patient summaries. What replaced it—EHR documentation—now resembles a “random collection of information and numbers more than anything readable or coherent.”2

Telling a patient’s story in a clear, purposeful manner —the essence of the index card system— has faded away in favor of gathering enormous volumes of structured data for regulatory compliance. This approach to EHR documentation has put an unnecessary burden on the physician to enter data, click around screens, and scroll for information. An improved EHR documentation experience must remove this from the process and get back to the art of the summary.

 

1 Beck, M. 2014, September 16, 2014. AMA Urges Overhaul of Electronic Medical Records. Wall Street Journal.

2 Mokotoff, D. February 2, 2014. Death of the physician progress note. Available at: http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2014/02/death-physician-progress-note.html.   
 

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