Are you paying attention? Good. Then let’s begin…
When choosing an electronic medical record vendor, it’s important to look for a system that has a clean, uncluttered layout, which facilitates simple and straightforward data entry. The system I chose three years ago is very good that way. The interface is user friendly and intuitive. I can type my notes or utilized voice dictation software. Often, I wait until the patient encounter is over to finish my notes.
You need a system that minimally intrudes upon the doctor-patient encounter. That’s why a system that encourages a narrative account of the patient’s visit is better than one which has you constantly hunting around for ticky-boxes is better, at least in my opinion.
When making the transition from paper to EMR, there will be times when the technology will get in the way of efficient communication. Patient visit will take longer, particularly for the first couple of years, as you populate the database with key elements of your patients history, while trying to keep the visit flowing and conversational. It gets better as time goes on, but there is still a trade off between efficient handling of information, and making good eye contact with your patients.
Having gone through this process, I have to say there were times when I felt the technology was getting in the way, but it’s much better now.
Growing pains are part of the bargain when you implement an EMR. Hopefully, you only have to go through it once…
Stanford University recently published a commentary on this issue. Within it you will find additional links to source articles.