Electronic Medical Records Influence Provider/Patient Interaction

Do you sometimes get the feeling that something has come between you and your provider? You’re right, as a computer now consumes a significant amount of his or her attention as data are entered into your electronic medical record (EMR).

A little background may shed some light on the advent of the widespread system that now pervades healthcare. EMRs emerged as an outgrowth of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009. Under the guise of improving healthcare, the government implemented a system utilizing incentives and penalties to incorporate information technology into healthcare. With the goal of government-controlled healthcare, the plan required physicians to adopt the use of EMRs or face stiff financial penalties.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 86.9% of office-based physicians have adopted an EMR system. The goals underlying the use of the EMR include improved patient safety, heightened efficiency, better communication and greater facility in sharing patient information. However, adoption of EMRs has created a significant financial impact, manifest in adoption and implementation costs, financial losses related to reduced productivity, continuing maintenance costs, conversion from paper to electronic systems and training of office staff.

In light of the large volume of health information exchanged electronically, patients have experienced increasing concerns around the privacy of their medical records. Coupled with the perceived reduction in providers’ “face time” during office visits, patients often find the providers’ computers to be an intrusion rather than offering a benefit in the management of healthcare issues.

Physicians, too, find EMRs provide both advantages and disadvantages. A 2014 physician survey conducted by the American Medical Association and AmericanEHR Partners found that only 34% of respondents expressed satisfaction with their systems. There’s no doubt there’s a need for improved operability and efficiency.

Regardless of skepticism or concerns on either the provider or patient side, electronic medical records are here to stay.

Author
Ithaca Primary Care

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