EMRs: A boon to medical data, but a bane to physician efficiency

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EMRs: A boon to medical data, but a bane to physician efficiency

Allured by lucrative “meaningful use” incentives offered by the federal government as part of the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, physicians have been steadily swapping out their pens and pads for EMRs.

But while EMRs have been billed as a more effective way to store, access and analyze health data, the impact on health care hasn’t been universally good. Some physicians report that their EMRs are clunky and difficult to use, which has eaten into the time they can spend with patients.

Several studies have shown that when physicians spend extra time entering data themselves, it cuts down time spent with patients and stretches out their workdays, according to a recent Harvard Working Knowledge newsletter. As a result, many practices have started delegating EHR-related tasks to clinical support staff.

Recent research published in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education also underscores how cumbersome EMRs have become. A survey of trainees in 24 specialties found that the current clinical documentation workload may be a barrier to optimal patient care, impacting time spent with patients, physician well-being, time available for teaching and quality of resident education.

Since we talk on a regular basis with organizations about improving the quality of their clinical encounter documentation, we’ve become all too familiar with these complaints. Physicians are telling us they’re spending an inordinate amount of their time typing and editing patient encounters, as well as trying to navigate and retrieve information.

That’s where using voice recognition with the help of Silent Type’s medical editors can help. We can significantly lighten the physician workload by using voice recognition to auto-transcribe doctor’s notes, then by editing and finalizing documents. When providers use our Silent Type Automated Records System (STARS), their clinical encounter documentation can be easily accessed and incorporated into an EMR. The result is more time physicians can spend with patients, and consistently accurate clinical documentation.

Photo credit: Celestine Chua (cc)

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