New Survey Reveals EHRs Just Don’t Care About Patient Care

Minneapolis, MN|Aug. 27
For the past 3 years, healthcare systems across the U.S. have seen a surge in the adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) primarily caused by a government incentive program called the HITECH Act, which is commonly referred to as “Meaningful Use”. However, there has also been a concurrent rise in the level of physician frustration in utilizing EHRs over this time period as well. Complaints have soared over lack of usability, extended patient wait times, and fears that doctors were going to suddenly turn into data monkeys overnight.

The healthcare community has long been sold on the idea that EHRs are beneficial to a healthcare provider’s daily routine as well as being a critical tool to improve the quality of care being delivered to patients. Yet, research has proven to be inconclusive on these claims with most of it ending in a half-hearted “Meh” while occasionally claiming EHRs have the same effect on patient care quality as car radios do to traffic accidents. One rogue observer has even dared to suggest that perhaps EHRs and the quality of patient care are mutually exclusive variables.

Arlo Berdofsky, PhD, of the Institute of Health Informatics at the University of Minnesota has struggled with this problem over this 3 year time period as well. “Historically, every time we blindly apply technology to an industry it has improved that industry ten-fold.” Says Berdofsky, citing references from pre-history and beyond. “Why a tool originally created to solve a different problem isn’t immediately having a positive effect on the quality of [patient] care has been a great mystery.”

In order to solve this mystery Arlo and his team of graduate students set about on a novel approach of surveying the EHRs themselves to see how much effort they were putting forth into improving patient care. The results were a big surprise to the research team as they compiled the responses which were unanimous in declaring that the EHRs just did not care about the quality of patient care one bit. “We initially had a single respondent that cared a little, but it turned out that was a bug.” One of Berdofsky’s graduate students lamented before noting that the bug was eventually fixed.

The results are even more stunning when taking into account the enormity of the study. Every single EHR was surveyed and had enough motivation to respond that they simply felt patient care was at the bottom of their priority lists. Some users of EHRs did not see these results as a surprise at all though. Dr. Anna Singh of the University of Minnesota’s P. Bunyon Clinic is one that saw it coming: “My EHR, EPICK [shouted, since it is in all caps] definitely doesn’t care. It actively nags me and demands attention like a spoiled brat whenever a patient comes anywhere near me.” Close to tears, she spoke on the condition that she be interviewed in her car so her EHR would not overhear. “…Sometimes, I think it’s just a self-confidence thing, but other times…something is just really messed up with that computer program.” Users of the EHRs CONcerner, Medithuselah, and Allcryptics expressed similar sentiments noting their systems were “Lazy and Apathetic”, “Constantly late to work”, or “Bad listeners”.

Despite these results, Berdofsky seems to be finding a silver lining. “At first I was discouraged, but I soon realized that this was a foundational study for some very important work ahead of us.” Soon after the results were published in the Journal of Informatica, Berdofsky developed a metric to measure how little an EHR cares about the quality of patient care. “We will soon be able to unequivocally prove that Medithuselah gives two sh*ts less than EPICK by our new scale.”

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Comments
One Response to “New Survey Reveals EHRs Just Don’t Care About Patient Care”
  1. Venkata says:

    Rest of the World is looking at developing Archtype Paradigm for developing EHRs. It is based on the work that is taking place at “www.openEHR.org”.

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