Here is a central irony concerning the electronic health record (EHR) systems that are rapidly becoming the norm in hospitals across the country, including in New Jersey, as expressed by a pediatrician.

“It is actually much harder to take care of sick patients in the ICU with our new hospital system,” notes that doctor. He adds that, as chairman of a committee highly motivated to make EHR integration work optimally at his facility, he is far from opposed on principle to new technological changes being rapidly introduced in medical facilities across the United States.

What he is opposed to, and what has been similarly targeted by many other doctors and medical organizations nationally, is the perceived and unwarranted haste that is driving the universal change from patients’ paper records to electronic repositories.

That haste, he says, has led to medication errors and other medical mistakes following EHR implementation. An online discussion board addressing the topic that was recently scrutinized by David F. Carr, a healthcare writer and editor, reveals discontent expressed by other doctors manifested in “a mismatch between how the software in healthcare works and how the people in healthcare work.”

In other words, much of the criticisms being leveled at EHR systems are centered on interfaces that are perceived as deficient, usability problems, problematic drop-down menus, garbled information displays and other cited snafus. The result is a double negative: a time-consuming and unrewarding user experience, coupled with what has been termed “new potential errors.”

Carr says there is a notable and widespread clamor for both a fix and a more studied implementation in EHR implementation. He says that his foray into the area revealed “how unanimously and passionately dissatisfied most doctors are” with the EHR systems they are working with.

Source: InformationWeek, “Why doctors hate EHR software,” David F. Carr, Oct. 21, 2013