Change is in the air, and every soul in the healthcare industry can feel it. More patients are going to be covered under the healthcare reform law. But then, won’t it skew the ratio between patients and doctors? It will. A sudden rise in more patients will lead to physician shortage and mounting pressure on physicians to be more productive.
Now let’s consider another important change — the electronic health record (EHR). It’s a utopian concept that aims at systematic collection, organization and sharing of the health information of patients across different healthcare settings. When this ideal concept hits the plains of reality it turns into a physician’s nightmare. More patients and rigid templates are a perfect recipe for the degradation of documentation quality. And when this happens, you can also expect more delays and denials as regards medical claims.
The problem lies with the rigid templates of EHR with drop-down menus, check boxes and templates to enter information. This not only hampers physicians’ workflow but also takes away the flexibility to report complicated or unique conditions. Earlier, physicians just had to dictate the medical data, the transcribers would create transcripts for the same and everyone was happy.
Physicians need a viable choice, an alternative that would allow them to easily report the complicated circumstances. It should be flexible enough to enable them to take advantage of both the templates and dictation. This innovative model wherein dictation becomes partial can prove to be really advantageous. Physicians can enter certain types of information such as current medications, dosage etc. using the check boxes, templates and drop-down menus in the EHR, and dictate more detailed information such as patient history, treatment plan and such other facts. The virtues of EHR technology can thus be combined with traditional medical transcription or speech recognition for the best results.
The possibility of partial dictation will encourage physicians to adopt the EHR system because it retains the time-honored dictation method, which they are comfortable with. This can reduce their learning curve significantly and help ensure enhanced patient care. This unique system will also have a positive effect on healthcare documentation specialists who are experiencing layoffs and cutbacks. With their specialized documentation skills they can keep the pressure off the physicians’ backs and help in ensuring quality documentation and lesser claim rejections.
EHR indeed has many benefits for patients. But patients are not the only side to consider. There is an all important physician’s perspective too, that of the individuals who render the service. Without taking their interests into consideration, any change can be a namesake change only.