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Explaining The Epic Failure Of EMRs

Wed, 12/19/2012 - 9:31am
Kiran Raj Pandey, M.D.

It is no news a lot of doctors like to stick up a rather snotty nose to EMR. The defenders of the EMR tend to label such doctors as archetypal Luddites, sticking to their archaic ways and unbecoming of change and the new times. But as is usually the case with any two heated but opposite arguments, the truth likely lies somewhere between the two extremes.

On an objective basis, there is no denying that automatisation of medical record keeping is the new way forward. In theory, if the machine could keep records for you and give it back to you when and where you want it, thus freeing up valuable time for the patient encounter, that should be winsome for everyone. That alas, is a vision of the EMR utopia, and let alone being anywhere close to such utopia, it is difficult to ascertain if we are even set in the road leading us there.

Sometime ago, exasperated at the sheer waste of time that the clunky new discharge module was causing because it would not work the way it is supposed to (my hospital is means challenged, so they are building a patchwork of cheapskate EMR suite on top of their legacy system from the 90s, just to placate the gods of CMS), I complained to the IT guy that the thing barely works! The guy was sympathetic and said, “look I know the discharge module sucks, just bear with it until the end of the year when we should be able to weed out the bugs.”

But that’s not all, I said, even if it were working just the way it is supposed to, the discharge still takes me longer than what it used to with paper. “That’s something you will have to learn to live with,” he retorted. “Computer records do take a longer time than paper, and there is nothing I can do to change that.”

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