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July/August 2021

Editor's Note: It Takes a Village to Create a Successful EHR
By Lee DeOrio
For The Record
Vol. 33 No. 4 P. 4

Why was I surprised when my family physician told me that yes, indeed, the fact that I received the COVID vaccine was duly noted in my EMR? Past documentation foibles? Studies illustrating the lack of interoperability even within health systems?

I did receive the vaccine at an in-network facility, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been all that impressed. The fact that I was illustrates the perception that patients in general don’t expect much when it comes to their records following them around. After all, we’re talking about the health care system. If there’s anything you can count on, it’s that it’s expensive (horror stories are commonplace), mind-numbingly clunky, and generally inefficient.

I am not here to bury the EHR, but rather to praise its winning attributes. I’ve learned that doctors can be engaging while entering data into the system. There are awkward moments when the only sound is the clickety-clack of the keyboard, but I either spend that time asking questions or thinking of questions to ask.

Once the visit is completed, everything’s online, including the ability to ask questions. Nice.

Of course, this is all coming from a patient’s perspective. For clinicians, hurdles remain, some of which are examined in the feature “EHRs, Usability Remain at Odds” on page 16. There’s no sugarcoating that there still exists a contingent of practices that are frustrated and dissatisfied with EHRs.

It’s noted that most of the disdain stems from what’s perceived to be design failures. Surely, this is a problem that can be overcome through cooperation and teamwork. All parties, from vendors and professional organizations to individual physicians and health systems, must put aside stubbornness and arrogance to agree on a platform that puts patients first.

Questions about proprietary software loom heavily over an industry not known for its ability to share nicely, a longstanding flaw that spells trouble for practices that would like to craft and mold an EHR in a manner that best fits their workflow. With that in mind, my perspective as a patient pales in comparison to the necessary adjustments needed to make all parties large and small gain value from top-notch, trusted technology.