Physicians’ Love – Hate Relationship With the EHRs

ehr alternatives

Medical practitioners and physicians are using electronic health records (EHRs) and other such technology more than ever now. However, many physicians find EHRs far from perfect. A similar concern is shared by patients and families, even those who are becoming more tech-savvy.

A report from Stanford Medicine and aHarris Poll tells us that two-thirds (63%) of primary care practitioners (PCPs) think that EHRs have paved the way to improved care but they are only somewhat satisfied with their current system. About 70% believe that EHRs have improved over the past half a decade while 40% agree that there are way more challenges with EHRs than benefits.

Other interesting findings from the study show that 49% of office-based PCPs think that using an EHR reduces their clinical effectiveness because they are distracted. About 70% said that EHRs are one of the factors that contribute to physician burnout. Only 8% believe that the primary value of their EHR is clinically related. More than half of the practitioners are of the view that EHRs require an overhaul. 72% claimed that improving the user interface of EHRs could address the challenges of EHR in the near future. About 67% of respondents think that solving interoperability deficiencies should be the top priority for EHRs in the next ten years. Staggering 90% of physicians want the EHRs to be more intuitive and responsive.

It is clear that about 3% of PCPs don’t see their EHR as a valuable system. However, they do agree that this technology can put constraints on their time, add more to their administrative burdens, and can possibly hurt their relationship with the patients.

ehr systems

It is a Thin Line Between Love and Hate

As shown in the statistics above, a love-hate relationship with EHRs is not uncommon for practitioners but there are many who love their information technology. What kind of systems could win practitioners’ approval? It is one that could involve them and other physicians in its design, one which could easily gel in or integrate into their workflow and enable access to information without multiple steps, clicks, or searches, and finally, one that frees them for direct patient care. For example, features like a voice-to-text interface could be very useful. This can enable the practitioners to focus on their conversation with the patient while the system records all the necessary information. If medical libraries are built into the application to help ensure accuracy, that could be a game-changer.

Cyber Security Concerns

Physicians now frequently read about security breaches that have affected others or they have gone through personal experience. As practice managers, one of the most important decisions they have to make is to protect patient information as well as the organizations. Therefore, one appeal of a good EHR is a two-step verification process which ensures that if a laptop or another device is stolen or lost, the practitioners do not have to worry about patient information being accessed.

Addressing HIPAA and cybersecurity should be a part of orientation for new providers. As the stories about the health system and organization cyber breaches make headlines, patients and families are becoming more aware of the security issues. At the same time, patient-generated health data from remote or wearable devices also present new opportunities for security problems.

A study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public health demonstrated that a third of patients were very concerned about a data breach or that an unauthorized individual or entity will be able to access their private data. Only 26% said they were somewhat concerned. Some patients even expressed their concern that data from their health records may be used wrongly to deny them health insurance, benefits, or job opportunities.

As this awareness grows and more family members or patients ask providers about the security of information, the need to answer them satisfactorily has arisen. Physicians need to be prepared to have these conversations. One way to do that is to bring a device to meetings with a quick run-through of how the practice’s EHR works. This can put patients, family members, team leaders, and the facility’s new members at ease.

medcial security

Other Concerns with EHRs

A survey by iHealth Beat found that physicians have identified the following EHR-related concerns which lead to their dissatisfaction:

  • Increased electronic alerts and messages
  • Interference with clinical workflows
  • Interruption of face-to-face patient care
  • Time-consuming data entry
  • Lack of interoperability with outside providers

Hucu Facilitates Telehealth Consultation Sessions

But what is interoperability? It simply means sharing patient data amongst health systems. It has become the foundation in creating an effective plan for patient care delivery. Information like referrals, lab results, precautions etc. are needed right away to understand the patient and their needs better thus impacting the value of care.

Right now most EHRs lack interoperability which the healthcare providers are not happy with. Of course, it is challenging. However, there are solutions available that take care of all the issues that the physicians have with current EHRs. These solutions offer HIPAA compliance as well as fantastic interoperability for effective patient care. Hucu.ai is one such solution. 

To improve interoperability in healthcare, Hucu.ai provides a platform of easy messaging to seamlessly exchange information among the patient’s healthcare teams so that everyone is on the same page, at the same time, accessing the same information. 

What Hucu.ai Offers

Hucu’s motto is to simplify healthcare communication by offering a patient-centered secure messaging network for providers and payers. Hucu.ai not only offers HIPAA compliant messaging for just the organization but also allows practitioners to expand this capability to their partners in a patient-centered manner. It also can be integrated into the EHR to further improve staff’s efficiencies. It comes with built-in capability that streamlines communication across different staff working in different organizations but caring for the same patients. Hucu.ai can be integrated with any technology, for example:

  • Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) Devices and Solutions
  • Chronic Care Management (CCM) Solutions
  • Transitional Care Management (TCM) Solutions
  • EHR solutions
  • ADT/Bed Management
  • Laboratory Solutions
  • Radiology/Imaging Solutions
  • Scheduling Solutions
  • Practice Management Solutions
  • Billing Solutions
  • Alarm Notification Solutions
  • EMT Solutions
  • Nurse Call Solutions
  • Paging Services and Solutions
  • Answering Services and Solutions
  • Transportation Solutions
  • GPS / Geofencing Solutions
  • Active Directory/LDAP
  • Single Sign-On (SSO) 
  • Any other solutions using FHIR, HL-7 or API based integrations

To ensure that medical practitioners and physicians are not bombarded with alerts and messages, Hucu enables them to set their status as “available” or “busy” along with custom status messages.

 

Conclusion

It may take some time before EHR systems address the concerns shared by physicians and medical practitioners. However, until then, solutions like Hucu.ai are a stepping stone towards that ultimate goal. Fully scalable, this HIPAA-compliant telehealth marvel has already increased the operational efficiency of many medical facilities. Learn more about Hucu and how it can help your organization, here.

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Healthcare: Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

covid19-remote-care

The crisis that the world is going through is total: sanitary, political, social, geopolitical, and economic. Faced with Covid-19, each country chose its strategy, reacted more or less quickly, and with more or less clarity to unparalleled health danger. The political decisions about the population containment and border closures play a vital role in the fight against the pandemic, but beyond these measures, there are some healthcare systems that appear to be better prepared than others to face Covid-19.

There are three assets which seem to predict an appropriate response to the crisis:

  • Knowing how to use health data and carry our mass screening
  • The capacity to control personal protective equipment stocks.
  • Avoiding Hospital Overcrowding by Relying on Telemedicine and Primary Care

Using Health Data to Carry Out Mass Screening

Faced with such a pandemic, targeted and rapid containment measures are very effective. This has been shown by some countries that have achieved the stratification of their populations in terms of risk levels, while other countries have made no distinction in the measures adopted. Take Taiwan for instance. It was able to effectively control the spread of the virus by cross-checking health databases with customs data from January onwards. By quickly identifying and confining those people who had traveled to high-risk areas, as well as those at higher risk from the virus, the Taiwanese authorities were able to avoid many deaths and protected the most vulnerable citizens. By mid-March, only 100 people were infected and one person died from Covid-19 in Taiwan.

To concentrate efforts, prevent the epidemic from spreading rapidly through the population and protect those most at risk of death – the elderly and the frail – health data is definitely an invaluable asset. The use of data should be accompanied by a policy of systematic screening to enable rapid and appropriate management. If countries can’t know who is sick how can they target their efforts? How can they know how many people are infected and monitor the evolution of the epidemic? How can the countries ensure that those most vulnerable are effectively protected? It is important to have enough test kits available and is a necessity to screen the entire population at a higher risk of infection or with major health risks.

The World Health Organization recommends countries to massively test the population so that they can identify clusters of sick people, in order to follow the evolution of the virus and to quarantine people who are contaminated. Comprehensive testing is critical to avoid the epidemic spread and further contamination.

The biggest challenge lies in the ability to respond quickly by concentrating resources on the populations that need it the most and to avoid hospital overcrowding and non-targeted measures that generate a great loss of energy without being effective.

Using Health Data to Carry Out Mass Screening

The Capacity To Control Personal Protective Equipment

Comprehensive use of basic personal protective equipment is important to effectively combat the spread of the virus. The Covid-19 epidemic has tragically shown how difficult it is for Europeans to access sufficient protective equipment for preventing the spread of the virus.

Masks are in short supply in pharmacies around the world and within different health facilities. Many primary care doctors around the world are not equipped despite the demonstrated usefulness of masks in preventing contaminations. It is essential to enable all healthcare professionals and vulnerable people to be equipped with masks, protective personal equipment, and hydro-alcoholic solutions to protect themselves from the virus.

The government also needs to control groups of people who are stealing stocks of personal protective equipment from healthcare facilities and selling them in black market. 

Avoiding Hospital Overcrowding By Relying On Telemedicine And Primary Care

Many countries that are hospital oriented were still not able to sufficiently use primary care in the pandemic crisis. While it is known that hospital capacity must be preserved so that it can provide care for patients most severely affected by the virus (amounting to 20% of those contaminated), primary care medicine is an essential asset for carrying out an initial selection, enabling continuity of care and preventing hospital overcrowding. Problems will arise if countries don’t quickly and clearly inform their healthcare practitioners about their role and what to do. If they don’t have the personal protective equipment like masks to deal with the epidemic, they will put themselves at risk. Such difficulties also reveal a real weakness in the public health systems of the world that generally focus on hospitals.

The use of telemedicine – a corollary of well structured ambulatory care – is also an essential asset in limiting hospital overcrowding. Telemedicine platforms exploded in China with the spread of the coronavirus. They enabled remote monitoring of contaminated patients and continuity of care for confined patients. Teleconsultations allow caregivers to protect themselves and carry out initial detections virtually by asking about the symptoms. However, low penetration of telemedicine and rapid mobilization of teleconsultation platforms constitutes a major barrier.

Hucu is a free messaging application that’s HIPAA compliant. When deployed in hospitals, it helps the staff to coordinate amongst themselves and better plan and prepare for daily activities at the hospital. It facilitates communication not just between the hospital staff but also between the doctors and the patients/family. So in cases where tele sessions are possible, Hucu can be used to monitor patients remotely and securely. It helps with lowering the number of patients visiting the hospitals and overcrowding so that hospital capacity can be reserved for severe or critical patients.

It is important to have enough acute care beds as well as ventilators to care for the most critical people in the pandemic. Countries need to look at their health systems, correlate the health data with predictive technology, and calculate the number of beds they would need in the future if they want to continue caring for incoming patients.

Hucu Facilitates Telehealth Consultation Sessions

The concept of telehealth has indeed existed for decades but it was slow to catch on. Getting patients to feel comfortable with the idea of online care and to find medical professionals who feel confident about conducting their work in a remote setting is a difficult job. But necessity is the mother of invention. With social distancing due to COVID-19, many non-urgent healthcare providers were forced to close their doors and push patients to seek care remotely. The federal government in the U.S. also empowered doctors to use telehealth to treat Medicare patients. 

Many state governments and private insurers followed by issuing policies favorable to telemedicine. The pandemic has highlighted three key lessons that provide an optimistic picture of the future of telehealth.

Telehealth Adoption IS Feasible

With barriers to entry reduced and circumstances forcing providers and patients to check out alternate ways to use healthcare services, telehealth services are scaling quickly. For example, the Cleveland Clinic logged more than 60,000 telemedicine visits in March 2020 alone. This is an average increase of 1700%. 

Healthcare experts agree that this trend will continue. After all, remote healthcare allows patients to be cared for much more efficiently. It also takes off the strain on healthcare facilities while reducing the operating costs and common healthcare-related infections. IT vendor Sykes surveyed around 2000 American adults about their perceptions of telehealth in Covid-19 and how it can affect their approach to telehealth in the future. More than half the respondents said that the pandemic has increased their willingness to try telehealth. Many of them tried telehealth services and they were satisfied with their experience and would want to schedule another telehealth visit in the future.

 

Doctors, Patients & Families Can Stay Connected Remotely & Securely With Hucu

This means that telehealth is here to stay even post Covid-19 and we will see its broader implementation in the healthcare system. There is a lot that Covid-19 changed in the healthcare system and we will probably see some of these changes to stay in future as we learn the lessons taught in the era of the pandemic.

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