Some physicians are finding that their practice is not achieving an increase in productivity after implementation of an electronic medical records (EMR) program. This can sometimes be caused by a mismatch between the specific EMR program they are using and their specialty.
A study was done at the University of California at Davis, to see how the implementation of electronic medical records programs affected the productivity of six different practices.
They discovered that there was an initial decrease in productivity during the training period, which is to be expected; however, after this period, internists were able to recover their productivity, and actually increased it over what it was before the implementation of the EMR technology, whereas pediatricians and family doctors weren’t able to realize their former productivity.
The EMR system used by all six practices was the same, and it more closely matched the work flow of the internists, who had to enter radiology images, and viewing notes from previous visits and treatment. The work of the family physicians, however, had to do with very different tasks – constantly entering new data, and recording measurements – which were actually made more difficult with the EMR.
Doctors were used to entering data manually, with pen and paper, and using the new technology made them operate more slowly, even after the initial training period.
Hemant Bhargava, PhD., is the associate dean and professor of management and computer science at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, led the study.
He felt that all six practices could have realized an increase in their productivity if they had adopted different versions of the EMR system, each of which was tailored to their specific needs.
The problem of choosing the right electronic medical records program has become more and more obvious as healthcare organizations scramble to purchase and implement the programs in order to make themselves eligible for financial incentives.
As the programs are adopted without enough careful consideration, and most of the decision-makers aren’t aware of the differences between the programs, more and more physicians find themselves bogged down with software that doesn’t fit their needs well.
Unfortunately, this gives a poor reputation to a new (and usually efficient and beneficial) technology, one which is not completely deserved. If more consideration is given to the type of EMR system being implemented, many more practices will realize an increase in their productivity as a result of utilizing the technology properly.