Report Cites MDIS as an Important Way to Meet EHR Goals
The American Medical Information Association (AMIA) Task Force report on the status and future direction of electronic health records (EHRs) is out. And not surprisingly, it finds EHR systems are a mixed blessing. While cutting down information silos, the technology also cuts down physician efficiency and patient care time. As a result, taking full advantage of an EHR’s enhanced patient information is often extremely difficult.
The obvious EHR benefits cited in the report include more robust patient data, faster availability of information, greater data accuracy and access to information across the enterprise and beyond. Potentially, this availability enhances clinical decision making, patient safety—and much more. But, ironically, the survey suggests that these benefits may be difficult to realize because inputting EHR data is a tremendous drain on caregivers’ time.
The report noted that unintended EHR impact often included “reduced time for patient-clinician interaction, transferred new and burdensome data entry tasks to front-line clinicians and lengthened workdays.” It also said that physicians employing EHRs typically are compelled to seek extra help in completing their clinical and administrative responsibilities. They must frequently remain after working hours simply to complete EHR data input.
The overarching recommendation to address this is to “simplify and speed documentation . . . and decrease data entry burdens for the clinician.” The task report notes that much of the information relevant to the diagnosis and treatment of patients could be more efficiently “captured automatically by devices or other information systems.” In other words, it advocates for the adoption of a medical device information system (MDIS), citing these as a potentially effective solutions to these problems.
Any clinician who has used an EHR knows that this recommendation makes good sense. An MDIS frees up staff from manually recording data and then re-inputting it into an EHR at a later time—a common practice in hospitals. Alternatively, physicians in certain settings may choose to input information while treating patients to enhance workflow efficiency. But patient interaction suffers, and many of those being treated have expressed dissatisfaction with this scenario. In either case, manual data input leaves significant room for human error, diminishing the accuracy of EHR information.
Interestingly, as medical technology use increases overall, the report implies that MDIS has yet another important benefit. It helps clinicians leverage healthcare technology efficiencies to their fullest potential, allowing for more individual attention given to patients, and thus accelerating the realization of clinical value.
The report states that during the last decade, the focus has been to encourage facilities to implement and use EHRs. Going forward, the challenge is to ensure these systems are used in a way that results in their promised benefits—efficiency, quality and safety.
Clearly, MDIS will be very much a part of meeting these goals. Do you agree?