Electronic health records, EHR, offer some benefits over physical paperwork, or at least it should. An EHR system can instantly transfer information and records between primary care doctors and specialists without having to copy them and mail or hand-deliver the important documents and risk losing them or having them spend days in transit. Prescription records can help prevent doctors from accidentally overprescribing drugs or giving patients a potentially dangerous combination.
However, the way EHR is going, it’s not yet anywhere close to living up to the hype. Different health networks are upgrading their systems with software from different companies, software that is very often incompatible with the competition. Hospitals and clinics are falling into expensive scams since no one is sure how everything works yet, and EHR standards mean doctors have to fill in a lot of information that might not be necessary and wasn’t a part of procedures during the days of paper.
Still, time marches on, and even though change is in the air in Washington, it’s unlikely for the moment that the demand for electronic recordkeeping and fast record transfers will be a part of those changes. EHR is here to stay, and doctors will have to find ways to adapt.
A recent study surveyed a panel of 15 experts, and their consensus was that spending time with EHR software was taking valuable time away from patients, a fact that can lead to poor care, poor job satisfaction, and even missed diagnoses. But since doctors can’t change the law directly and can’t create a perfect, bug-free EHR program, the panel advised taking on medical scribes to handle the electronic busywork as a permanent position so that physicians can spend more time with each patient and see more patients each day. Even a small, private practice can benefit from having a medical scribe on the team.
At ProScribe, we make a point of employing professional, well-trained medical scribes with the patients to take on a desk job and the knowledge needed to understand medical terminology and avoid mistakes. Medical scribes can pay for themselves by freeing up the doctor for more patient visits, so you should at least contact us even if your business budget is currently tight.