10 things you hate about your EMR

By Michelle McNickle
01:24 PM

Change is hard. And when that change involves new technology and a radical shift within the industry, it’s even easier to become frustrated. 

The great debate concerning electronic medical records continues to this day, and as more systems are implemented, the more issues providers and professionals have with them. That’s why we asked readers and experts alike to share with us some of their biggest gripes concerning EMRs.

Twitter and LinkedIn were buzzing with issues ranging from usability to an increase in paperwork. From legacy systems to the downright inoperable, we’re seeing EMRs have a long way to go before they’re considered preventative, practical, and patient-friendly. 

Check out the top 10 things you hate about your EMR: 

1. It doesn’t measure up to paper. Shahid Shah, software analyst and author of the blog Healthcare IT Guy, can’t stand when developers and other IT professionals “assume paper records and medical grade documents aren’t as important as structured data.” And according to Deborah Peel, MD, a practicing physician and national expert on medical privacy, EMR systems don’t allow patients to control who can see, use, or disclose sensitive health data. “Today’s EMRs were never build to comply with [patients’] constitutional and ethical rights to privacy,” she said. “This is very different from how paper medical record systems work: where doctors always asked for [patients’] consent before releasing [their] records to anyone.” And when some argue there are many things EMRs can do that paper records can’t, such as sharing information from doctor to doctor, Twitter user @sixuntilme thinks otherwise. “Every doctor has [an EMR], but none of those records talk to one another,” she tweeted. “We need an EMR cloud.”

2. It’s hard to use. Twitter user @LivingWellDoc believes there are many issues concerning an EMR’s usability. “[They] need way more bandwidth than expected,” she tweeted. “[They have] cumbersome interface…[and it’s] difficult to get to certain screens (for example, to make a personal favorite list of prescriptions, have to do so within a patient record).” Twitter user @gemlovesblue also agreed and tweeted, “I hate EHR and validating expense claims. Confusing as hell. I say this with the utmost conviction. #work.” Natalie Hodge, MD, author of the blog Healthergy.net and co-founder and CHO of Personal Medicine, offered a simple solution to making EMR systems easier to use. According to her, all EMR systems should be able to work on a Mac. “There is an inherent amount of costs in Windows-based products because you have to do a million things to make them run,” she said. “People say ‘Macs are so expensive,’ but when you compare the cost of them to hardware in Windows products, Macs are worth it.” Hodge continued by saying many doctors aren’t happy with EMRs, not because of the software, but because of the hardware. “They have multiple pervasive hardware issues that are problematic,” she said. 

3. It doesn’t provide the basics. LinkedIn user David McCartney, CFO at Center Street Community Health Center, has issues with certain systems and their inability to generate basic reports. According to him, the patient accounting module that his vendor is using is “something else.” “My rev cycle coordinator says it’s hard to post money to,” McCartney wrote in response to a question posed by the Healthcare Finance News group. “More importantly, we’re still getting a month-end rev report by the vendor running a database query—there doesn’t appear to be a standard report. And, there is no aged A/R report, either detail or summary.” McCartney explained how he can't graph by the age of the payer to see where problems are. In addition, he can’t estimate allowances for uncollectibles based on ageing. “We’re 13 months into this system and continue to be promised that they’re developing standard reports. I’ve been working in healthcare for 25 years and have never seen a system that couldn’t generate an aged receivable listing.”  Twitter user @aimeecarsonmb has similar issues with her system and the lack of information it provides. “I hate getting discharge summaries from an EMR,” she tweeted. “You get all the details but none of the real info.”

Continued on the next page.

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