As Luna Health Sciences Solutions (LHSS) works to match the needs of the health sciences with smart and usable IT, integrating emerging technology with the necessities of healthcare is of paramount issue. Of great interest lately is the performance (or challenges) of electronic health record (EHR) technology. The challenges with EHRs are tremendous, but with the help of the best and brightest from both the Healthcare and IT industries, those challenges are surmountable.
The Potential and the Problems with EHRs
As EHR technology is integrated throughout the health sciences industry, physicians are reporting significant problems. The potential of EHRs is promising, but the technology needs to greatly improve to meet the steep demands of real-world medical practitioners.
Like any digital data, electronic medical records can increase access, collaboration between professionals, and offer consumers and physicians alike a more comprehensive picture as records that once were distributed among various offices can be combined into a grand total.
But just like any other vital technology, systems can fail, clouds can be hacked. Hardware malfunction or data breach can abandon clinicians to practice blindly or leave private medical details exposed.
In an article for Healthcare Informatics, AMA Immediate Past President Challenges Healthcare IT Leaders to FIX EHRs, writer Mark Hagland addresses the challenges physicians face as they try to bridge the expansive crevasse between heath care and IT.
Hagland discusses an address given by past AMA president, Steven J. Stack, MD during which Stack explains that the problem physicians currently face with EHRs is not a reluctance to utilize technology, but “the immaturity of the EHR solutions available on today’s healthcare market.” More than simple record keeping, EHRs need to be more “usable, user-friendly, and reliable for physicians.”
It’s not that the technology that is unwelcome. The problem is that EHRs in their current form are inadequate to meet the nuanced needs of healthcare.
In a recent article from The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Evolutionary Pressures on the Electronic Health Record: Caring for Complexity, authors Donna M. Zulman, MD, MS, Nigram H. Shah, MBBS, PhD, and Abraham Verghese, MD address these concerns further. The authors explain that, “The EHR has many virtues: it supports arduous and time-intensive tasks such as order entry and medical history review, and most systems routinely alert clinicians if they prescribe medication combinations that might cause harm.” The problem, as Stack also explains, has to do with untapped technological potential.
In Hagland’s article, Stack complains that, in a world of interactive, integrated, social technology, “when it comes to EHRs, ‘we’ve been given things that look much more like my Atari 800 did in 1980.’”
Why EHRs Are Worth the Work and Innovation
The JAMA authors explain the frustration of vast potential but so little current fruition: “existing EHRs…have yet to seize one of the greatest opportunities of comprehensive record systems—learning from what happened to similar patients and summarizing that experience for the treating physician and the patient.” EHRs, properly developed, can offer great service and healthcare innovation.
When physicians are asked if they’d like to forgo EHRs in favor of paper, Stack explains that “’Over 80 percent said, no way; just make them better.’” To “make them better” will require the best and brightest Health and IT minds to make the necessary improvements. Meeting those demands will be revolutionary - allowing physicians and patients alike access to comprehensive and secure records for tailored care.
For the convenience of our readers, links to cited articles are provided through out this post, but are also available below:
Hagland, M. (2016, August 11). AMA Immediate Past President Challenges Healthcare IT Leaders to Fix EHRs. Retrieved August 18, 2016, from http://www.healthcare-informatics.com/
Zulman, D. M., MD, MS, Shah, N. H., MBBS, PhD, & Verghese, A., MD. (2016, August 15). Evolutionary Pressures on the Electronic Health Record: Caring for Complexity. Retrieved August 18, 2016, from http://jama.jamanetwork.com/journal.aspx