Last week I wrote about electronic health records (EHRs) being the wave of the future. It is interesting that in the surveys I could find, physicians, in general, are very unhappy with the amount of time it takes to deal with EHRs. They would rather spend time with their patients, examining, listening and looking at them for signs of illness.
The amount of time spent by physicians on EHRs seems to be greatly increased with these requirements. While EHRs sound great in theory, many offices are not finding satisfaction in implementing them due to the high cost and amount of time they take. The average cost for the software to implement EHRs is around an initial investment of $40,000, with yearly updates in the $12,000 to $15,000 range.
This really increases a doctor's overhead, which wasn't inexpensive to begin with. No wonder many offices were resistant. There were stipends from the federal government for doctor's offices and hospitals that complied with this new law up until 2014.
When I took my brother to a doctor here in Crestview, his biggest complaint was that his doctor wasn't paying any attention to him or his answers as she was on her phone the entire time. I explained that she was using her smart phone to input his answers. He was so unhappy about the situation, he never followed up with her.
So, on one hand we have new technology that seems tremendous, but it has taken away face-to-face time with the physicians since they are constantly on their computers. Additionally, these records are capable of being hacked. So, what is the solution?
Hospitals seem to have adapted well to EHRs, but they tend to have more money to spend on software than a physician's private practice. I was a high risk patient while at Shands, University of Florida's hospital in Gainesville. There were nurse alcoves with glass windows and computer desks looking into the patients rooms so the nurses could keep an extra eye out for critical patients while doing their paperwork. I do recall that both doctors and nurses spent an inordinate amount of time on their computers, and I wondered how they got everything accomplished.
Also, have you noticed that prescriptions are mainly sent by email or fax to the pharmacy? This is both convenient and inconvenient. If one needs to shop around for cost, it was easier with a paper prescription to do so. One didn't have to have the doctor's office resend the prescription to another pharmacy should the cost be too high.
How do you feel about EHRs, are you happy for the innovation or concerned about your privacy? How do you feel about the time spent with your physician these days? There is a fine balance between technology in medicine and the risk of it becoming impersonal.
Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.