But What Do I Know?
I’ve been looking at a whole lot of EHRs and their web sites lately, looking for my "next great system." Maybe they’re just starting to blur together in my brain, but it looks as if every single EHR out there will improve my workflow, decrease my errors, increase my productivity, improve my bottom line, get me home earlier, make my life easier, and guarantee my MU bucks. Somehow the redundancy of hype doesn’t increase my interest…but what do I know?
Back in 2004, I remember thinking that the majority of EHRs looked a whole lot like Windows 95. Not much has changed. I used to think that most EHR developers would soon learn the value of style, of "eye friendliness" for meeting the wide variety of end user tastes, or that at least they’d develop "skinning" for their systems to help solve the problem of ugly EHR user interfaces. I remember thinking how much better they’d all look within the next five years…but what do I know?
I remember when you moved from one medical practice to another, from one type of paper chart to another, and it took all of about thirty seconds to figure out what went where and how to find the info you needed. Seems that the multitude of "modern" electronic charting systems could stand to be reminded of that…but what do I know?
Seems as if every report I receive via fax or hard copy from (fill in the blank) EHR is either way too long and filled with mostly irrelevant "filler" data or way too short and lacking essential, clinically valuable elements. Seems as if very little effort is being spent, at any level, on truly defining what clinicians actually "need" and how to make that information apparent, easily visualized, and perhaps even somewhat standardized when it comes to knowing where to look for any given piece of info…but what do I know?
Doctors used to be paid for their knowledge, for their experience, for their clinical skills, and their wisdom. Nowadays, it seems we’re paid mostly for data capture. I think patients still want good “doctoring”…but what do I know?
It may just be me, but there appears to be an increasing similarity between how insurance companies deal with clinicians and how more and more EHR vendors are starting to treat us…but what do I know?
I read that independent providers aren’t flocking to EHRs quite as much or as fast as hoped despite the ARRA/HITECH incentives. I’m thinking it might be because of some of the above concerns and just how difficult it is to actually change virtually everything about how you work while you’re busy actually trying to do the work…but what do I know?
For myself, I’m also hesitant to make another EHR choice. Having lived through three EHR company acquisition-mergers which eventually led to the Kevorkianization of a really smart, sexy system that was just reaching a respectable maturity, I’m pretty sure more this same digital tragi-drama will happen to many other decent systems over the next few years…but what do I know?
Don’t get me wrong; I see systems which do some things very well and I know a whole lot of EHR vendor folks who I think are just plain wonderful. Good people and good intentions are important, but I’m still thinking I want a beautiful system that works as easily as my iPad and as intelligently as WebOS, one that I can start using as simply as I need and which can then be "apped" silly at my discretion, one that is actually as good and as smart as all the hype…but what do I know?
From the trenches…
“Committee – a group of men who keep minutes and waste hours." – Milton Berle
Dr. Gregg Alexander, a grunt in the trenches pediatrician, directs the “Pediatric Office of the Future” exhibit for the American Academy of Pediatrics and is a member of the Professional Advisory Council for ModernMedicine.com. More of his blather…er, writings…can be found at hisblog, practice web site or directly from firstname.lastname@example.org.