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Electronic Health Records: Not a Seamless Process, Part 1

It might have struck you as an immediate apparency or, rather, dawned on you only over time.

We’re talking about your recognition as a patient of electronic health records. For years, your doctor busily scribbled away in your patient records, making handwritten notations. Then, suddenly, he or she began interacting with a computer screen each time you came in for an appointment.

How’s that working for you?

Concededly, your physician might still be hunched over your records with pen in hand, but that would be an anomaly; reportedly, a clear majority of all doctors across the country are now participants in the EHR revolution, with hospitals using a digital record format in almost every instance.

There have been many comprehensive reviews on EHR processes following their initial implementation a few years back. Virtually every of them spotlights a mixed bag of results. At the inception of the EHR transformation a few years back, many pundits predicted a happy and seamless transition from paper charts and notes, coupled with a more optimal delivery of medical care. Advocates predicted fewer adverse patient outcomes brought about by physician sloppiness, lack of care coordination and other factors.

Some of those projections have been realized, but only partially, and system-related accolades are interspersed just as liberally with strong criticisms — and even condemnation — of EHR software, usability, mistake-inducing errors, and even relevance.

“After five years I can’t really do anything I couldn’t do before the program started,” states one doctor.

As noted in an article detailing the history of electronic health records, many other doctors make similar statements.

Indeed, physicians’ vitriol toward EHR processes is widespread and based on many factors. We will examine some of their criticisms in our next blog entry.