According to a survey of c-suite healthcare executives by Premier, a leading healthcare improvement company, 49 percent of executives have plans to make their largest capital investments in Health Information Technology (HIT) over the next year, which would include Electronic Health Records (EHRs), advanced data analytics and telecommunications. The survey also says 41 percent of respondents are either dissatisfied or indifferent as regards their current EHR standards. In the opinion of Premier’s COO, the investments target HIT for providing more connected efficient patient care and modern medical equipment that can improve patient outcomes. However, the majority of electronic clinical documentation systems can’t efficiently integrate clinical, financial and operational data across hospitals and health systems.
Major Shortcomings of EHR
As per the Premier survey, healthcare leaders dissatisfied with their existing EHR system often cites two reasons – cost and difficulty to use. Sometimes, EHR documentation takes too much time with endless logging in and out, duplicate entries, unnecessary screens and finding where to chart something. Another survey by RAND Corporation in 2013 gives more shortcomings of the electronic record system such as:
- The system interferes with face-to-face discussions with patients and forces physicians to spend too much time for documentation.
- The template-generated notes with the system reduce the accuracy of medical records with limited narrative description.
- The systems won’t communicate with each other so that it is not possible to transmit patient medical information, when it is necessary.
Many physicians copy and paste data within EHR system in order to save time. However, most of them may not have enough time to check every word or data point while copy-pasting lots of data if there are a number of cases and it is easy to perpetuate errors in the chart with this.
EHR Transcription – A Better Solution
Despite all these shortcomings, EHR implementation is inevitable for healthcare providers in the U.S. because of the formal policy demands of the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the necessity to optimize care delivery, cost-effectiveness, patient satisfaction and efficiency through automation. In other words, providers are forced to embrace EHR systems with all their shortcomings to fulfill the requirements of Meaningful Use, meet the demands of value-based purchasing and readmissions reduction under the ACA and value-based purchasing under private health insurance along with the need to compete with local as well as regional healthcare markets. An approach combining EHR and transcription is a better solution for healthcare providers to make the electronic record system effective in this kind of scenario.
In this system, physician dictations are transcribed with the help of transcriptionists and discrete reportable transcription (DRT) technology is used to populate the transcribed data within the EHR system. This will help them to take advantage of both structured templates and narrative description depending on the care settings and practice patterns. For example, structured history and physical templates populated by a physician assistant may be useful in the case of one care setting while transcribed narrative report may be the best for findings and assessments. If providers seek the support of a professional transcription company with a good quality assessment team, they can ensure that data within the EHR is accurate and avoid errors associated with copy-pasted data.