Over the past 5 years, I've done almost nothing other than speak with one medical practice after another about how they document their patient vistis and why they hate the software they use to do it. If they didn't have a software in place, we mainly focused the conversation around what things they anticipate hating in the future!
What I've learned from those 1000's of conversations is that Doctors find difficulty around 5 main aspects of the EHR software that they are using or shopping for. The following list will attempt to summarize these issues, so we can start a dialog around what we can do to imporve these common problems.
1. They are Hard to Use.
It's no secret that new software is hard for most small businesses to implement and learn to use well. EHR software has been no different for medical practices and finding one that is "easy" is more about finding a vendor who does a great job teaching the practice how to use the program. There are systems that are more intuitively built than others, however. The important thing that Doctors are learning to search for regarding this common issue, is to find an EHR that was built specifically for their type of practice.
2. They Degrade the Patient Experience.
Doctors HATE being forced to stare at a computer screen when speaking to their patients. This becomes especially relevant when in Mental Health. In a counceling setting, it is CRUCIAL to be able to make a connection with the patient and not being able to make consistant and meaningful eye contact with those receiving care is a deal breaker.
3. They aren't Reliable.
Many EHR and Practice Management programs that are being used in Small Medical practices today go down. Many of them are server based systems that require constant supervision and maintenance. Customer service and support departments are also leaving a lot to be desired these days. When a practices' system goes down, it can bring the practice to a screaching halt; often forcing the practice to go back to a paper based workflow. This is just unacceptable for most, and leads to unbelievable frustration on the part of the end user.
4. They Cost WAY TOO MUCH.
This issue doesn't only have to do with the price tag of most programs available today, which can sometimes be in the tens, to hundreds of thousands. The costs that an EHR can bring to a practice also come in the form of increased labor requirements, decreased reimbursements, reimbursement penalties, and opportunity costs. The fact of the matter is that most practices don't even want to know what their system is costing them, and most wouldn't know where to turn if they did. These cost stated, pale in comparison to the potential fines and punishments that can come from HIPAA violations, which can be in the millions.
5. The Templates Dont Match Their WorkFlow
If the template doesn't fit..They'll probably quit..
It's as simple as that. Many physicians complain about the quality and feel of the templates that their EHR provides them. The ability to be flexible on this issue, and allow for customizations is Key to finding a good solution. I'd even go a step futher and say finding a vendor who will do the customization work for you is even more important as showing a doctor how to do this often leads to them calling a new vendor.
These problems certainly are not the only issues out there. But in my experience, they are what I've heard most often. In a world where physicians are required to use an EHR, focusing on avoiding these issues will save doctors a ton of time and money on headache medicine!
Written by Matt Kelly
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Matt Kelly has spent the last 6 years working directly with medical practices and medical billing companies to assess and help solve some of the most common and costly practice management and revenue cycle management issues effecting those in healthcare today. Through the implementation of easy and affordable technology, and proper planning, he has worked with thousands of medical providers to change the way they practice medicine for the better. Areas of expertise include EHR, Practice Management, RCM and Social Media Marketing.
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