1 Job–4 EHRs
At my new job, I yet again had to learn one office EHR, a different hospital EHR and at least two more with which I must become familiar to become a full member of the local rheumatology coverage team. Of course, none of these programs talks to another. You must log into each system separately, and each has a different password and security requirements. Simply remembering what are recommended to be different passwords is a full-time job.
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Explore This IssueApril 2015
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Lost Patient Time
While it seems ages, it has not been too long since the EHR made our acquaintance. Less than a decade ago, I worked in a busy clinic when it acquired its first EHR. I recall that we lost a tremendous amount of patient time learning how to use the highly touted and expensive new system. The next thing I knew, we had the vendor’s certified technological representatives lurking about. In theory, they were there to help us, but they somehow always managed to be on break or at lunch or using the bathroom and, hence, were never around when needed.
One day, we logged on and saw only an ominous dark screen where our notes should have been safely stored, forever lost in a black hole of electronic patient data. Then, a month later, after enormous loss of money and time that otherwise could have been devoted to patient care, a whole new system was purchased.
Driving Rheumatologists Out
It’s sad that this EHR critique jumps from the keyboard of a relatively young physician. It’s not surprising when you hear the same complaints from mentor-level rheumatologists, with years of wisdom and experience, who leave their chosen profession due to EHR issues.
During my recent job search, I was upset to hear two independent rheumatologists describe to me how much trouble they have with EHRs. One retired early in order to avoid the issue altogether, and the other was looking to hire a young, presumably tech-savvy, associate to handle the headaches of transitioning from paper to EHR. I find it disturbing to have lost even one well-qualified doctor due to EHR issues at a time of both primary care and specialty shortages.
But here we are, and we have no choice but to function in a less-than-optimal system. I really don’t care who would realize the profit, but my hope would be to someday have, if not one universal EHR, at least one system through which they all must be able to quickly and easily communicate with one another. I dream of an EHR that might allow me to treat a patient while looking them in the eye instead of into the sightless eye of the computer screen.