Hospital IT departments around the country are encouraging electronic health record (EHR) use. But what happens when users on the proverbial front line repeatedly reach for paper charts? And, more importantly, why does it keep happening?
One problem stems from poor EHR workflow design, where the steps a user must take to get through a software application don’t match the steps he is used to taking to, say, add patient information to a paper chart.
Another problem, as a guest post on KevinMD.com points out, is the perception that EHR use takes longer than using a paper chart — a perception that provides little motivation for already overburdened nurses and clinicians. (Nor does it help that some hospital staff, for a variety of reasons, may lack even the most basic of computer skills.)
Both problems can be solved. The IT staff needs to conduct a workflow analysis before the EHR system is installed on a single server. Doing this will ensure there are no extra or missing steps, and that in turn will suggest to end users that IT understands their needs. Moreover, an efficient workflow lends itself to addressing the second issue by demonstrating that EHR use can, in fact, save time.
Other issues certainly can affect a staff’s EHR use adversely, but a crisp, clean workflow, enhanced with sufficient end-user training, should address those most formidable problems.