For all the promise that digital records hold for making the system more efficient—and the very real benefit these records have already brought in areas like preventing medication errors—EMRs aren’t working on the whole. They’re time consuming, prioritize billing codes over patient care, and too often force physicians to focus on digital recordkeeping rather than the patient in front of them.
I’ve read some physicians can spend up to 60% of their day capturing patient information in the EHR. And this isn’t because there’s a lot of information. It’s often down to confusing user interfaces, misguided approaches to security (e.g. having to enter multiple different passwords and a lack of off-site access), and poor design that results in physicians capturing more information than necessary.
There’s interest in using natural language processing to analyse recorded conversation between clinicians and colleagues/patients and while the technology is still unsuitable for mainstream use, it seems likely that it will continue improving until it is.
- Gianfrancesco, M. A., Tamang, S., Yazdany, J., & Schmajuk, G. (2018). Potential Biases in Machine Learning Algorithms Using Electronic Health Record Data. JAMA Internal Medicine, 1–4.
- Hodgson, T., Magrabi, F., & Coiera, E. (2017). Efficiency and safety of speech recognition for documentation in the electronic health record. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 24(6), 1127–1133.