EHR vendor selection process is fraught with risks in alienating docs

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Healthcare organizations that don’t maintain and optimize their electronic health record systems risk having unhappy and unproductive physicians.

That can have catastrophic effects, as some of those clinicians may decide to leave and go elsewhere to practice. This happens more often than many stakeholders might expect, says Jay Anders, MD, chief medical officer at Medicomp Systems, a vendor of software to enhance documentation and streamline workflows.

If an organization asks doctors and other clinicians what they want, many will say that the current documentation setup is backwards to how they actually document, notes Anders, a physician for 20 years before going into administrative posts.

Unfortunately, he adds, some organizations don’t even bring clinicians into the vendor selection process as a handful of administrators, with no experience using EHRs, decide the selection.

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A recent ¬Deloitte survey, available here, found that 66 percent of respondent physicians were not asked to provide feedback to inform EHR optimization decisions. Fully half of the doctors not only were not asked for input by IT leaders or EHR vendors, but the doctors also were not informed when improvement efforts were underway at their organization.

In their defense, however, some administrators may be selecting the only vendor option they really could be comfortable with, according to Anders. “No administrator gets fired for choosing Epic. So, they choose the safe bet.”

But it’s the lack of optimization of EHRs where physicians too often are not listened to, he contends. “Doctors will rise up, ask requests for enhancements, but the requests drop to the bottom of the priority list.”

Administrators with an understanding of clinical workflow are few and far between, as many do not know that each physician specialty includes unique workflows. So, instead of choosing a system that adapts to the various specialties of physicians, the doctors may get a generic system, causing dissatisfaction, according to Anders.

That results in physicians using subpar electronic records under which documentation can be so ardous that for the doctors to complete documentation, they have to take it home and finish clinic notes in the evening.

Remember, Anders warns, that doctors have other options. With an MD or DO degree they can teach, go into the vendor ranks, or become a practice management consultant, and be home for dinner most nights. “And they don’t have the malpractice and administrative worries.”

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