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Simpler EMRs Lower Physician Stress

Posted on September 23, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

When it comes to EMRs, simpler may be better, according to a new study. 

Researchers have concluded that doctors who use EMRs with a moderate number of functions are more stressed out and have a lower level of job satisfaction than those who use EMRs with fewer functions.

The study also suggested that doctors who used highly functioning EMRs are especially challenged providing care if they feel the time allowed to do so isn’t adequate.

The study, which was reported in Healthcare Informatics magazine, originally appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. In the study, researchers examined variables including doctor-reported stress, burnout, satisfaction and intent to leave the practice, then used these variables to compare decisions before and after EMR systems were implemented.

To gauge how physicians react to EMR features, the study authors looked at 379 primary care physicians, along with 92 managers at 92 clinics from New York City and the upper Midwest.

The physicians and managers were participating in the Minimizing Error, Maximizing Outcome study, a 2001 – 2005 study assessing relationships between the structure and culture of the primary care workplace, physician stress and burnout, and the quality of care experienced by their patients, Healthcare Informatics reported.

The researchers actually found the job stress went down slightly for physicians using sophisticated EMR system compared to physicians with moderately complex EMRs. However, time pressure during examinations was more highly associated with adverse physician outcomes in the high EMR function group, the study authors wrote.

It’s worth remembering, however, that EMR complexity isn’t the only factor which determines how comfortable physicians are with their system.

Ultimately, seeing to it that doctors are comfortable with EMR features and functions before they’re installed and set in stone is the best way to see to their satisfaction, according to health IT expert Mark Olschesky.

Simple EMRs and the EMR Backlog

Posted on August 19, 2009 I Written By

The following is from XLEMR. In this Newsletter, Ryan Ricks argues that simple EMRs have many advantages over complex EMRs. They are simpler to learn and install. This may be important if you are going to get your first year HITECH Bonus (if you don’t get it in 2011, you lose it). In my opinion, it is very important that EMRs like this can be certified so Physicians have choice. As long as you can use them in a “meaningful” way, they should be certified. For my definition of “meaningful” see What is “Meaningful Use”, What EMRs should be “Certified” and Who should do the Certifying from July 27, 2009.

This is an excerpt from Mr. Ricks’ post.

Once preliminary certification begins in October, EHR demand should surge. Although the market is currently slow, many vendors have installation backlogs. Preliminary certification may cause those backlogs to increase. Physicians who are in the “wait and see” mode will need to make a decision quickly. Waiting could result in long delays that may jeopardize the ability to qualify for the first year of reimbursements. One alternative is to purchase a simple system. Simple systems take much less time to install, so backlogs are not a problem. Simple systems are also easier to learn, meaning you do not use as much valuable time for training instead of seeing patients. Finally, simple systems are easy to use, giving you more time to qualify for meaningful use. Be sure to ask any EHR vendor if they have any backlogs, and how long it takes to implement their system. Their answer will tell you if their system is simple.

Has anyone seen this backlog? How long do you have to wait?

IBM vs DEC – XLEMR vs AllScripts

Posted on August 13, 2009 I Written By

The products and services offered in nearly every industry, at their outset, are so complicated and expensive that only people with a lot of money can afford them, and only people with a lot of expertise can provide or use them … At some point, however, these industries were transformed, making their products and services so much more affordable and accessible that a much larger population of could purchase them, and people with less training could competently provide them and use them … To illustrate how these enablers of disruptive innovation (technology enabler, business model innovation, value network) can combine to transform a high-cost, expertise-intensive product into one that is much more affordable and simple, let’s briefly review how it transformed digital computing … By coupling the technological and business model enablers , IBM transformed the computing industry and much of the world with it, while DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) was swept away. [Dr. Jeff’s Note: read up on computers to see how this will happen with healthcare IT. We don’t have to accept the complex, expensive, unusable systems currently available. They will be replaced by better systems we can all use happily].

(The information above was taken from Clayton M. Christensen’s new book, The Innovator’s Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care, Introduction pp. xix-xxi. )

I believe that this is happening with EMRs right now! We now have certain EMRs which are easy to use, simple to learn, affordable and effective. These EMRs will sweep away the complex, expensive clunkers put out by most EMR companies.

Your thoughts?