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EHRs and broken promises shouldn’t go hand in hand

November 06, 2023
Health IT
Sandra Johnson
By Sandra Johnson

For years, healthcare provider organizations have invested billions in time and money on their electronic health records (EHR) systems, pushed forward by federal regulations. Yet, as our industry continues to be plagued with persistent staffing shortages, clinician burnout, and financial pressures, too often, healthcare organizations aren’t realizing the value from technology investments.

Instead, EHRs have made the burden of administrative work so much worse, especially for clinicians. According to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, doctors in outpatient settings spend just 27% of their day in face-to-face patient care, while half of their time is consumed by EHRs and desk work. The result is burnout. In a Stanford Medicine poll, 71% of physicians reported that EHRs contribute to burnout, and six out of 10 (59%) think EHRs need a complete overhaul.

The level of frustration has led to “Get Rid of Stupid Stuff” initiatives, like the one launched by Hawaii Pacific Health in 2017, which is now spreading to other health systems in the U.S. These initiatives enlist clinicians on the front lines to help identify and eradicate the time-wasting, inefficient, and often unnecessary activities forced upon clinicians by their EHRs.

This is one more indicator of the chasm separating the promise and reality of EHRs for making healthcare better for healthcare organizations, their staff and most importantly, their patients. According to a recent KLAS report, one in four healthcare organizations say their vendor does not keep all promises, especially related to support communication and follow-through, product capabilities – in particular integration, implementation, upgrades, development – and ongoing costs. It’s time for disruption in how EHRs are sold, implemented and managed to alleviate IT complexities, eliminate downtime, and lower total cost of ownership, regardless of the size and complexity of the health system.

An emerging system delivery approach
Key concerns organizations express are the upfront costs and unpredictable ongoing costs for their EHR. An alternative delivery model has emerged in recent years: the system-as-a-service (SYaaS) subscription model. The SYaaS model packages everything required to manage the EHR together, including all hardware, software, and ongoing support services, all for a fixed price. This approach centralizes all implementation, integration, optimization, and system monitoring services to manage reliability and performance, while reducing the burden on IT staff.

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