, 37:9955
Date: 19 Jun 2013

EHR Implementation in a New Clinic: A Case Study of Clinician Perceptions

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Abstract

Driven by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act large numbers of physicians and hospitals are now implementing electronic health records (EHR) with the general expectation that such systems will improve the quality, safety and efficiency of health care services. Studies of conversions from paper to electronic records paint a mixed picture with healthcare providers pleased with some aspects of their EHRs but dissatisfied with others. These prior studies focused on conversions from paper to electronic records. Many provider impressions, therefore, may have been influenced by reactions to the process of being required to change well established patterns. In order to help separate such reactions from true evaluations of the efficacy of the EHR, we decided to survey the providers in a new health center. To insure that the information gathered was not merely anecdotal, we used a well-established format starting with a semi-structured interview which facilitates analysis and recognition of major themes. We included questions around several important areas including workflow, communication, patient satisfaction, productivity, documentation, and quality of care. Ten main themes emerged: impeding patient flow, hindering communication in office, improving communication after the visit, improving tracking of patient care, spending less time with patients, requiring more training, wanting more features, diminishing productivity, appreciating benefits of templates, and enhancing internal communication. The need for better training appeared to be of especially high importance as it impacted several of the other themes. We believe that our study helps validate the similar concerns expressed in studies of transitions from paper to electronic record systems. Our method may be generally useful to other clinics because it facilitates timely recognition of themes, both positive and negative, that clinicians and clinic managers would want to know at an early stage. Prompt knowledge of such developing themes may help to accentuate the positive aspects of the EHR and to prevent negative themes from developing into serious problems that might be considered serious unintended consequences of EHR usage.