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AMA Calls for “Reboot” of Electronic Health Records

Nov 25, 2014 11:03AM ● By MED Magazine

Are you frustrated with the lack of usability of your EMR system? According to data from the American Medical Association, you are in good company and they are calling the industry to do something about it.

Building on its landmark study with RAND Corporation confirming that discontent with electronic health records (EHRs) is taking a significant toll on physicians, in September the AMA officially called for solutions to EHR systems that have neglected usability as a necessary feature. To support the idea, they released a new framework outlining what they see as the eight top priorities for improving EHR in ways that will benefit caregivers and patients.

"Physician experiences documented by the AMA and RAND demonstrate that most electronic health record systems fail to support efficient and effective clinical work," said AMA President-elect Steven J. Stack, MD.  "This has resulted in physicians feeling increasingly demoralized by technology that interferes with their ability to provide first-rate medical care to their patients."

Stack says the part of the problem is too many screens, scrolling and clicks required to document a note into the patient’s electronic chart, leaving less time for patient care and making providers feel like data entry clerks. While the AMA/RAND findings show physicians generally expressed no desire to return to paper record keeping, most physicians are frustrated by the cumbersome nature of many systems.

Numerous other studies support these findings, including a recent survey by International Data Corporation that found 58 percent of ambulatory physicians were not satisfied with their EHR technology. According to that study, "most office-based providers find themselves at lower productivity levels than before the implementation of their EHR" and that "workflow, usability, productivity, and vendor quality issues continue to drive dissatisfaction."

Despite the usability issues, physicians are mandated to use certified EHR technology to participate in the federal government's EHR incentive programs. The AMA has called for the federal government to acknowledge the challenges physicians face and abandon the all-or-nothing approach for meeting meaningful use standards.