Education, collaboration critical to maximize EMR potential
NEW ORLEANS — Ongoing training, tweaking the technology to what benefits you, and discussing needed changes with information technology departments can help primary care physicians and internists recognize the full potential of the electronic medical record, according to a presenter at the American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting.
“The EMR is our primary tool of providing care to patients, it’s also our cockpit, our dashboard,” Kendall M. Rogers, MD, CPE, FACP, SFHM, professor and chief, division of hospital medicine, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center told Healio Family Medicine.
“[However,] technology has not quite met the promise we felt that it can in medicine, and a lot of that is due to a lack of involvement in the design and implementation by providers, and a need for providers to be more directly involved in helping to design and implement these systems,” he continued.
To maximize the use of EMRs with the existing limitations until the systems become more user-friendly, Rogers suggested standardizing and customizing service lines; developing personalized auto-text and templates; using specific dates (ie, April 23) as opposed to the word ‘today’; removing alerts that are not useful; training every 6 months, and banding together with peers inside and outside of your affiliated hospital or practice.
“Training is never rated as a highly enjoyable activity by providers, but it’s truly necessary here. The same EMR can be a completely different entity, depending on the organization, so there has to be local training to understand how the system is designed at their location,” Rogers said. “But it’s also important for doctors to create collaborative ties with the other organizations who are using the same system because often we are not using these systems to their maximum potential.”
He also suggested being assertive with IT groups and vendors.
“EMRs are supposed to make us smarter, make us better doctors, and make us faster and more efficient at achieving our goals. If EMRs did that, 100% of physicians would be on board with this technology. Technology has allowed for this in every other industry except medicine, where it has increased barriers and increased cost and has introduced new problems that didn’t exist,” Rogers said. “When advocating for change, stand firm and do not take ‘No’ for an answer.”
He pointed out that despite his strong stance on getting the most out of EMRs, there are certain components of being a physician that they should never replace.
“Many of the things technology provides we will gladly give away, such as all the sensitivities in antibiotics and pathogens within a community because technology will be able to manage all that information for us,” he said. “Technology [should] never replace empathy, returning to the back-to-bedside manner, communications with patients and being that intermediary between IT-generated recommendations for the patients and the individuality of the patients of themselves.” – by Janel Miller
Rogers K. Making the electronic health record work for you, not vice versa. Presented at: American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting; April 17-21, 2018; New Orleans.
Disclosure: Rogers reports serving on an advisory board and receiving book royalties.