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So What Do Actual Doctors Think of EHRs?

Sometimes it’s not just medicine that a doctor has to deal with, but paperwork too. (Picture taken by tedeyfan and posted on Flickr. Downloaded August, 2012.)

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) have a been known in the medical business for having a lot of potential, but they also have a history of limited adoption.

The whole idea behind an EHR is that each patient’s medical history could be available to all doctors that a patient sees. This would allow each doctor to have more complete information, and therefore offer better treatment. Patients often don’t remember their complete history, or they choose not to offer it, which can result in dangerous mistreatments.

Many people have concerns about privacy, though. It’s possible for someone who has that data to take advantage of it. Physicians, too, have raised concerns. They’re not in the practice of having to update an external record every time they treat someone.

Today we’re going to talk about what physicians really think about EHRs, and whether they’re warming up to them.

Do EHRs Affect Productivity?
In a recent survey, physicians were asked how EHRs affected their office’s productivity. The responses were split almost down the middle. Twenty-six percent of physicians said that EHRs decreased productivity, while 23 percent said they experienced more efficiency.

Other figures were collected about revenue, cost, and general effects on the practice. But the results are inconclusive. The small number of responses and the split variety of their opinions makes it hard to determine.

Patient-Physician Relationship
It’s much more clear, however, that EHRs affect patient-physician relationships.

Thirty-six percent of physicians say that EHRs “had a positive impact on physician-patient relationship.” Thirty percent said EHRs had a negative impact. They usually cited less eye contact and less conversational time, but these problems are also something that could.

change as a doctor becomes more accustomed to the system.

Conclusion
After reviewing some statistics from actual physicians, it appears they’re hardly more decided about EHRs than the public. Many of them like the concept, as it feels like a move into the future. Others have a hard time with the nitty-gritty details, and feel like its a burden on their practice.

Considering that doctors are about evenly split in their opinions, I think that’s a sign that EHRs are moving forward in the long run. After all, it comes down to what they’re capable of doing for the healthcare system at large, not individual people’s opinions. An initial period of adjustment might be all it takes for EHRs to hit the mainstream.