Physician Revolt Against EHRs – Unlikely to Happen

Posted on August 20, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Physicians hate EHRs.

Yes, there are a few exceptions, but it’s pretty rare to find a physician that loves their EHR. There are a fair number of them that are apathetic towards their EHR, but there are a lot of doctors who hate them.

How much do they hate them? That’s hard to say, but it seems clear that they don’t hate them enough to really change things. Sure, they’ll leave some comments on message boards, send out some tweets or write some blogs, but they don’t seem ready to take it to the board (even when they’re the board). The most common path is doctors hate the EHR when it’s first implemented and then they learn the EHR software and become apathetic.

Clay Forsberg recently laid out the strategy for doctors who hate their EHR and want change:

Clay makes a great point. He then extends the discussion with these tweets:

The real problem here is that EHRs are the epitome of “meh.” They get in the way, but it’s hard to draw a specific line between EHR software and deaths or really poor quality care. They cause some time issues with multiple logins and lots of clicks, but they also save time in other ways. They have some bad workflows, but they make some workflows better.

EHRs are just good enough to avoid a revolt.

Plus, a doctor replying to Clay Forsberg’s tweet above identified another issue:

Doctors definitely don’t want to risk their livelihood, but I think even more than that they don’t think that complaints about the EHR are going to have any impact. This is particularly true in large health systems. As Clay Forsberg points out, one voice will likely fall on deaf ears. It would take a coordinated effort to really effect change.

I’d also add that the problem I’ve seen with those doctors that are complaining about EHR software aren’t doing it in a productive manner. It’s almost like these people are arguing that we should go back to paper. Let’s be honest. That’s not going to happen. Plus, they don’t acknowledge how much they hated paper either. Think about something as simple as a missing chart and that usually refreshes some of the memories. Let alone the stacks of paper charts on physician’s desks that still needed to be completed.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that EHRs couldn’t do a lot more to make physicians’ lives easier. There’s also a ton of poorly optimized EHR implementations that are driving doctors crazy. Those are fixable even if many doctors don’t realize that there are solutions out there. It’s important to realize that both are issues, but are addressed very differently.

At the end of the day, doctors can complain about EHR software until their blue in the face, but EHRs aren’t going anywhere. We’re not going back to paper and I don’t see an alternative to them coming soon. That said, a physician revolt against EHRs would make them better and that would be a great thing for everyone involved. I just don’t see enough doctors ready to revolt. Do you? If so, I’d love to hear what they’re doing.