Overcoming fears about EMR impeding patient care

“That it will ever come into general use, notwithstanding its value, is extremely doubtful; because its beneficial application requires much time and gives a good bit of trouble both to the patient and the practitioner; because its hue and character are foreign and opposed to all our habits and associations.”

In 1834, the London Times published this review suggesting the stethoscope would never be embraced. The thought of a physician listening to a patient to detect sounds of disease through a tube seemed intrusive and awkward. Today the stethoscope is a symbol of the medical profession.

Skepticism about widespread adoption of electronic medical record (EMR) systems has not been that much different. As clinics started planning for their transition to EMRs, images of clinicians disconnecting from their patients while they focused on data entry during routine encounters raised alarms. Many expressed concern that EMRs would create barriers to effective patient care.

Today, I find attitudes among providers and clinic administrators have evolved. A year or more into implementation, they are happy to note that workflows are streamlined and EMR applications have comfortably found their way into routine daily activities. Success stories have replaced trepidation. They tell me things are different (better) now. For example:

“I used to have to search for a chart. Was it in the file room or on someone’s desk? Plus there is no more handwriting. I can read the clinic notes.”

“It’s nice to know at a glance everything a patient needs when they are in the exam room; we have been able to consolidate visits and improve productivity.”

Again, I reflect back on the stethoscope. While the new shiny tool or software program on the market may generate some buzz, the biggest measure of success is the ability to improve patient care. Most medical professionals I have met would rather spend their time treating patients. A good EMR improves their ability to do just that.

UL’s clinic management solutions help occupational health professionals streamline the recording of information as clinic visits progress, so that when patients walk out the door, the bulk of the work is done.