Monday, November 16, 2015

Believe it or not, young physicians love their electronic health records

In a not so shocking display of affection, a millenial demonstrates his affection for his constant companion, the electronic health record. However, like any relationship the mood can change abruptly.

We often develop a love-hate relationship with our 'significant other', Why should it be different with an inanimate object?

As more hospitals move to electronic health records (EHRs), many physicians have started writing about their growing discontent with the new systems. Authors have declared that EHRs are poorly designed, inefficient, lead to over-billing, and aredownright dangerous. When my supervising physicians gripe about this, I mainly nod along to avoid conflict. But I have a confession to make: Most physicians currently in training love electronic health records.
I don’t disagree with the arguments my more experienced colleagues make about the limitations of EHRs. I know many of their criticisms are based on experiences that most younger physicians haven’t had, especially with regards to how EHRs affect running a practice. But it doesn’t matter. Because young physicians have embraced EHRs, it guarantees they will flourish moving forward. Why do resident physicians like EHRs? Some argue it is because it is the only thing we know, but I disagree.  Despite their flaws, EHRs increasingly allow us to cut back on busywork and focus more on being a better, safer doctor.
There are many great examples of how EHRs have started doing this. They allow us to make templates for notes for the same types of diagnoses, which not only saves time, but also prompts us to garner the same key information for each patient. Likewise, they allow us to create order sets or checklists to ensure that we don’t forget about prophylaxis against DVT’s or a patient allergies when placing orders (similar checklists have been shown to improve patient safety). But for those of us who still remember life pre-EHR, the best example of how EHRs have improved resident physicians’ lives can be understood by their effect on the daily process of taking care of patients in the hospital.
Everyone agrees that the current systems need improvement, and I understand that with any new technology, new unforeseen consequences can arise.
Still, EHRs are ingrained in how up-coming physicians practice, and as many authors have predicted, we will be their champions. In fact, I have a number of resident physician colleagues who now consider a hospital system’s EHR to determine where to apply for jobs or seek fellowships after residency. In short, while AMA survey data may show decreasing satisfaction with EHRs amongst physicians, for my generation, it may be that we’re expecting more from EHRs, not that we want to go back.
Manan Shah is a physician who blogs at He can be reached on twitter@mananshahmd.

Believe it or not, most young physicians love their electronic health records

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