Katherine Rourke’s May 23 post over at EMRandHIPAA.com regarding why the majority of providers who try EMR systems revert back to SOAP notes within a few months was interesting. She wrote,
“When asked why they go back to paper, they confess that they find EMR’s very rigid; the logic forces them into a completely unfamiliar (and often inferior) approach to their patient encounter. Subsequently, the physicians either stay after hours to type and click their notes into the EMR or delegate the arduous task to a staff member. The comments I’ve heard from my referring physicians follow along these lines:
“I’ve been practicing medicine for 20 years… What do the people who designed this software know about practicing medicine that I don’t?”
“Why can’t an EMR learn how I practice instead of forcing me to assess my patient its way?”
“It seems the more we customize the templates, the more pull-down screens we create, making the system even more cumbersome.”
I had to quote liberally from Katherine here because she pretty nearly 100% nails the right sentiments. Notice how much of a me-me-me mentality is often present. I’ve posted on this a few times in the past. I, too, remember staying after hours to type notes when I used Epic as a resident, but that was because I was only seeing clinic outpatients half a day per week and didn’t have a lot of time to spend on figuring out the templates in the system (I think they were called smart phrases back then). I think it’s a learning curve that doctors are too lazy to try to learn, despite now having all the time in the world to do so — I see patients Monday through Friday, all… day… long. For me, the problem was solved by my actually investing the time to learn how to use the tools in the right way. Much like going through residency on a quicker and shorter timescale, this still can be a bit of a drag. It requires knowing if your ultimate goal is really to use electronic medical records successfully, or if you are just doing it for some incentive money. If you’re not engaged in the mission, then you will continue to complain about EMRs due to not really getting the point and buying in. When doctors finally get it and are happy and excited to use an EMR, I say welcome aboard!
Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.