5 Critical EMR Challenges & How to Overcome Them

By Verto | July 31, 2020

In 2018 the New Yorker published an article outlining challenges that physicians face when working with their EMRs. These challenges have resulted in some unintended consequences on clinical workflows, patient outcomes, and patient experience.

These are the Top 5 Critical EMR Challenges and how your practice can overcome them. 

1)  EMRs are not effective at supporting care plans and non-standard clinical pathways

Stanford Medicine showed that many physicians view EMRs as a storage tool, not a clinical tool. As healthcare continues to shift to value-based care, a new paradigm must be developed. There is an opportunity to add a layer of capabilities to EMRs in order to support care plans rather than simply documenting what care has been provided.

How can this be overcome | Add a layer of automation to existing EMRs around integrated care pathways

Clinical pathways open the door for automation, providing the opportunity for personalized and contextualized engagements to the right person at the right time. This can reduce clinical and administrative burden for both clinicians and patients.

2) Difficulty sharing information across care teams

Patient information is often siloed across various systems that don’t easily communicate with each other. Interoperability gaps between heterogeneous systems have resulted in hybrid paper-digital processes that are expensive, time consuming, and do not always allow for effective communication with different members of the patient’s care team.

How can this be overcome | Enable circle of care visibility to improve communication efficiency

Rather than having clinicians fax over information that already exists in the EMR, enable ‘smart’ integrations to ensure that valuable information can be easily shared with care team members.

3) Inability to easily share important information with patients

While EMRs are strong in data storage and billing, they are not very effective at sharing educational information with patients. Many clinicians have expressed interest in an easy way to follow up with their patients, to ensure their patients are well equipped to manage their care from home.

How can this be overcome | Support patient engagement and patient education that is contextual and time sensitive

Utilize the valuable data found in EMR systems to provide educational materials and personalized engagements to patients. Creating a pipeline for automated patient engagement can improve clinical workflows by ensuring that patients are consistently engaged in their care.

4) Overwhelming amount of data, limited usable information

Some clinicians love their technology, but there are many that believe EMRs are consuming valuable time that could be spent with patients. For example, this past year an American Orthopedic Surgeon added a new patient to their roster. With this, they received the patient’s medical history on a CD-rom with over 600 pages of medical notes. 95% of the data they received had no clinical use to them – the data was in no way actionable.

How can this be overcome | Leverage ‘smart’ technology to access the subset of relevant EMR information at point of care

Only show clinicians the information needed for their specific workflow or use case. Create a seamless and efficient experience to improve the clinical documentation process and reduce physician burnout.

5) Does not map to existing non-standard clinical workflows

According to an article from the J Am Med Inform Assoc, upwards of 70% of health information technology (IT) projects fail. Some of the reasons stated in the article were poor technology usability and stakeholder engagement. Examples of this might include instances of clinicians spending too much time on the phone trying to order a simple test or documenting for hours at home after a full day of patient care.

How can this be overcome | Add a layer of automation to existing EMR functionality to map your clinical workflows vs. having to force the EMR’s standard inflexible workflows

When systems are configured to support existing workflow or documentation needs, quality improvement and best practice care can be achieved. When implementing new technology, consider employing a co-development methodology, workflow shadowing, and process modeling in order to map your workflow to your technology.

Modernizing your EMR and overcoming these challenges can ensure that clinicians are limiting the time spent performing administrative and data entry tasks. This in turn can redirect their attention and time to what they were trained to do – practice patient centered care.

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