EMR systems falling short of expectations

EMR systems falling short of expectations
EMR systems falling short of expectations

Last fall, our practice implemented the electronic medical record (EMR). While many people in our office were daunted by the process of switching from paper to computers, I was excited.

I recognized that there would be a difficult transition period, but I really believed that EMR would make my daily practice more streamlined and efficient.

I was wrong.

The EMR system has made my daily tasks anything but streamlined and efficient. Every patient is a new patient in EMR. Each chart needs to be reviewed and the provider must decide what is important enough to be scanned into the computer before the paper chart is taken away from us.

Patient visits take almost twice as long, and most of that time is spent staring at a computer rather than focusing on the patient. I am running behind before my day even starts, and then spend at least five minutes explaining the delay and apologizing. I can only hope this part will get better with time, once the majority of the patients are entered into EMR.

The EMR system we use is poorly designed and difficult to navigate. Since my practice is part of a large, university-based system, our EMR program is not specific to OB/GYN, but rather has been modified for our use. This setup is not ideal, and I am constantly worried that I'm going to miss something important, particularly in our pregnant patients.

Beyond those problems, the program is antiquated, which is puzzling. My home computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone are constantly being updated as new technology and applications are developed. With each software update, the device or program becomes more intuitive and user-friendly. Is it possible to have updates like that for EMR systems? If EMR is the future of medicine, why does this new system seem outdated before it is even a year old?

When I envisioned the transition to EMR, I pictured a system that would keep patients' medical information centralized, streamlined, and organized. Sadly, the system we have implemented does not come close to meeting those expectations and often makes my job much more difficult.

Robyn Carlisle, MSN, CNM, WHNP, works as a full-scope midwife at University Doctors and Kennedy University Hospital in Sewell, N.J.

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