Dr. Jayne has presented a pretty great voice of reason in her blog posts about the realities of being a doctor in the meaningful use era. In a recent post she offered this comment which I’ve heard from many doctors:
And while we as physicians are having to cope with arduous workflows as a result of the regulations, there are advancements that would really benefit us that remain unaddressed.
I realize that EHR vendors have to prioritize requests from users. Plus, they have to deal with massive government regulation which has made it hard to prioritize user requests over government regulations. However, I know from the end user standpoint Dr. Jayne’s comment about the advancements that could be made in an EHR that still haven’t been added creates a really awful feeling.
Dr. Jayne also added this sad observation:
We’re forced to gather loads of information that could be put to good use but isn’t. For example, we collect information on race, ethnicity, religious preference, language preference, sexual orientation, and more. In many cases, it’s not used to further clinical care. It would have been great to have a prompt to ask about religious fasting the other night when I was treating a patient with profound dehydration. Although it occurred to me to ask, it didn’t occur to my patient care technician or to the resident I was supervising.
The optimistic side of me says that comments like this are a very good thing. 5-10 years ago, doctors wouldn’t have even thought to request this kind of feature. All they wanted to do was automate the paper charts. So, it’s progress that now we’re talking about ways we can incorporate the data in an EHR at the point of care in a much more effective way.
Now if EHR vendors can just be given the flexibility to work on these challenging problems instead of a list of prescriptive goverment regulations which just add to the burden of doctors as opposed to creating magical experiences.