Thinking Doctor

The Happy EMR End User: Myth or Reality?

We hear quite a lot about EMRs and their negative effects on healthcare. While vendors certainly have plenty of work to do on their tools, KLAS wanted to get a full and balanced picture of the EMR’s place in provider organizations. Beyond trying to help in fixing what was broken, chasing that more complete picture of EMRs was one reason we founded the Arch Collaborative.

One of the best outcomes of our initial Arch Collaborative research has been learning just how well certain organizations are doing. Surprising as it may be, there are really clinicians all over the US and beyond who are pleased with their EMRs. We want these providers’ voices to be heard. We’ve included below some of the positive comments from the Arch Collaborative’s EMR usability and satisfaction surveys:

  • “I find charting easier and quicker in the EMR. I am able to capture the work that I am doing.” It appears this clinician has learned how to use EMR-personalization tools to support their charting-workflow needs. Clinicians like this one should be recruited to help their peers become more knowledgeable about EMR capabilities.

     

  • “Based on my own experiences, the EMR saves time and allows for more patient-care time.” Many EMR comments received in our surveys complain about the time that the EMR takes away from patient care. In this case, however, the clinician has received the necessary training to create EMR workflows that make the clinician more efficient. This clinician would make a great contribution to a departmental meeting. They could provide their peers with insights on how to use the EMR to save time and thereby work more with their patients.

     

  • “It is nice to be able to read notes from other providers without deciphering handwriting.” This was one benefit of the EMR that the industry has expected from day one. The EMR all but eliminates issues caused by clinicians charting with bad handwriting. What a win for patient safety!

     

  • “Overall, I am very satisfied with the EMR’s ease of use, speed, remote accessibility, technical support, and visually pleasing interface.” Remote accessibility is necessary to helping the clinician evaluate the clinical status of a patient. It helps clinicians create and access orders for patient stabilization or diagnosis from any location. In addition, the clinician’s note about the pleasing interface implies that the clinician finds the EMR navigation and displays to be intuitive and logical. It may also suggest that this clinician has used a layout-personalization tool to create the visual display of EMR functions that meets their needs.

     

  • “It is a great convenience to be able to complete records at other sites, especially home.” Again, secure and remote access to the EMR allows clinicians to lead more normal lives. The EMR can make it more doable for a physician to make it home for dinner, play with the kids, and then work on documentation at their convenience.

     

  • “I have seen decreased medication-ordering errors and better integration of patient data within the network.” One key patient-safety issue is medication errors. Eliminating ordering mistakes on the front end of the process is a good starting point. Implementing closed-loop medication administration across the organization is the best solution. Integrating patient data within the networks is a necessary foundation for supporting population health, and the EMR must be a component of any population health strategy.

     

  • “It took a while to get started. Now I wonder what we would do without the EMR.” This comment reflects the time needed to initially train clinicians on the EMR and the importance of follow-up education. Adequate training helps ensure that clinicians learn how to use the EMR effectively within their workflows. Successful EMR education should result in the clinicians wondering how they could work effectively without the EMR!

     

  • “I find it very intuitive and easy to use.” The clinician who made this comment has learned the EMR well and used personalization tools to create efficient workflows for delivering care. Clinicians who make statements like this need to be recruited into groups of coaches who can offer their peers at-the-elbow support.

     

  • “The EMR allows multiple users in multiple locations to use the same patient record almost simultaneously. . . . This is its greatest advantage of the EMR.” This comment elucidates the ability of the EMR to enable efficient and first-rate care. Multiple care providers may need to access a patient’s information at the same time, and the ability to support this operational requirement is necessary to providing high-quality and low-cost care.

 

Many of the Arch Collaborative members have told KLAS that they hadn’t expected to achieve the high EMR-satisfaction scores that they did. Is that because negative comments about the EMR make up the overwhelming majority of the feedback that leaders get from their most vocal clinicians?

The truth is that many clinicians have positive feelings about their EMRs. Leaders may just need to uncover those positive feelings. Whether they do so by joining the Arch Collaborative or gathering EMR-satisfaction data in some other way, leaders who learn what their clinicians love about the EMR will bring hope and ideas for how to further improve the EMR experience.