There’s no question that EHR systems have a steep learning curve, and even the most patient and careful practitioners are going to misstep once or twice. But while errors are inevitable, it is important to learn not to repeat them. Effective EHR software can help, but attentiveness to administrative tasks is also key.
Revising EHR errors
FierceEMR reported on a Medscape Business of Medicine story, which contends that correcting errors in EHR systems may prove to be more complicated than those on paper. This is largely due to the fact that in correcting an electronic error, the doctor may be overriding the initial error – which can erase the digital paper trail and lead to confusion, especially if a previous clinician used erroneous data to treat a patient.
Medscape provided a few suggestions for healthcare professionals, other than wariness: Providers should work with vendors on error correction systems, adopt an EHR system with the capability to track changes, and not allow doctors to override EHR data, even if it is faulty. Perhaps most importantly, doctors should always flag health records that have been amended and include a record of what the error was and how the correction was made.
While it is a lot of work, the long-term benefit is clear – more attentive doctors creating and keeping better patient records. Furthermore, as Medscape noted, better record keeping is an important step from a business perspective. Accurate patient records may save practices from malpractice or worse.
EHR technology benefits patients
A national survey of doctors equipped with EHR software indicated that health information technology may be one of the most effective ways to not only diagnose diseases and improve patient outcomes but also reduce medical errors. While the possibility of errors persists, and an efficient EHR system can reduce their likelihood and impact.
The survey also reported that 94 percent of providers said their EHR system made records readily available when patients entered the office. Another 88 percent reported that the technology produced clinical benefits for their practice. And 75 percent said that EHR led to better patient care.
Better patient care mostly comes from systems that reduce medical errors. For instance, an EHR system will not only keep track of patient medications or allergies but will double-check that when new medications are prescribed, they don’t conflict with one another or a patient’s known drug reactions.