Implementing Electronic Health Records (EHR) Essay

Electronic Health Records (EHR) are a system developed for doctors to document health records electronically as oppose to the old fashion way of writing everything down on paper and relying on memory to help patients with their medical problems (Ash 2004). Technology has now turned into need for almost every individual living in this world and has now made an impact on the manner doctors facilitate their work.

Instead of writing prescript drugs and holding a document record of every patient’s medical history, this data can easily be stored into the computer so every doctor has access to it (Ash, 2004). Whether it is doctors, specialized doctors, nurses or any other individual who needs access to those records, the medical history is just a click away. Saving time and money is another crucial factor that the EHR ensures because the whole process would move to a more paper-less environment (Ash, 2004).

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Instead of doctors having to search for documented health records, they could now go onto the computer and electronically open up a patient’s health record in less than thirty seconds. In the long run, EHR will positively transform the health care sector but implementing this process will be a difficult challenge as many doctors do not want to change their traditional approach in the way they conduct their practises. For that reason, Canada should slow and steadily implement EHR’s in clinics and hospitals rather than having a fast approach.

The effect EHR’s have on Pharmacists and other Professions EHR’s eliminate a lot of problems pharmacists face such as making prescriptions easier to read. Pharmacists have difficulty in reading prescriptions due to the lack of eligible penmanship that doctors have (Drake, Teague, Gersing, 2005). Pharmacists are in some cases sending patients back to their doctors to have prescriptions re-written. If doctors print out prescriptions instead, pharmacists would have no trouble in reading what has been prescribed for heir customers. Although EHR’s positively impact pharmacists and other professions that correlate with doctors in some shape of form, many doctors are still ignoring this process and sticking to the old way they carry on with their business (West, Blake, Liu, McKoy, Oertel, Carey, 2009). The reason for this is that many doctors around the world are old and have not been exposed to technology the way the new generation of people have so they continue to practise the way they normally do (West et al. , 2009).

Doctors not familiar with technology and therefore, do not use it People that are most familiar with technology are the people who use it. In Canada and the U. S, the majority of doctors are over the age of forty-five and have not been exposed to technology at a young age (Zandieh, Yoon, Kuperman, Langsam, Hyman, Kaushal, 2008). In many cases, this is the reason that doctors do not want to change their traditional way of practising. They find it easier and faster to work with their hands as oppose to using computers for all their daily work (Miller et al. 2004). This is the key reason why doctors/physicians are not adopting EHR’s. They want to practise as fast as possible, and since the EHR’s does not comply with their requirements, they have a difficult time having faith in this system. In fact, only eighteen percent of physicians are currently using EHR’s in their offices on an insignificant basis and only one and a half percent of hospitals have EHR’s properly installed (Miller, Sim, 2004). Another 7. 9% have a basic system installed but not the whole system in entirety (Miller et al. , 2004).

According to a doctor’s perspective, the faster that work is recorded into data, the better for them (Zandieh et al. , 2008). Many doctors have EHR systems implemented in their clinics but do not use them on a consistent basis because they believe it slows down their practising procedures. In fact, 26% of doctors that use these systems believe that EHR’s decrease productivity (Zandieh et al. , 2008). Also, the fact that many doctors are unaware of how to use these systems properly, some tend to make mistakes or get frustrated. Doctors then go back to the old way they facilitate their work.

There are also continuous changes/upgrades made to these systems that doctors do not know how to operate. Technology Continuously Changing The ongoing change in technology is another factor that prevents doctors from adopting this system. Doctors are worried that technology will continue to change and therefore reduce the consistent workflow of their daily routine (Zandieh et al. , 2008). Doctor facilities or hospitals that carried a large number of physicians were more likely to have EHR systems implemented in their facilities.

Doctors that own private practises in small groups were less likely to implement this technology because studies showed that many of them lacked the knowledge of how to use this new system so they just continued with the regular way they practise (Tang, Ash, Bates, Overhage, Sands, 2006). Like doctors, many staff members that work in doctor offices also have trouble with learning how to use these systems coherently. Staff members are known to have difficulty running new operations through computers (Tang et al. 2006). Doctors try to stay away from these procedures by continuing to practise and document data on papers oppose to adopting EHR’s in their clinics or hospitals (Zandieh et al. , 2008). The government should create requirements for doctors to continue their medical education and learn how to use these new systems. Although this may take more time, doctors will fully understand the use and benefits of implementing this system and will try to use the EHR’s on a daily basis.

More than eighty percent of doctors do not have these systems implemented in their clinic because they have not been exposed to this system and have no idea of the benefits EHR’s hold (Tang et al. 2006). Implementing EHR’s requires drastic change in workplace A crucial reason that implementing EHR’s would be too difficult is because it would require a drastic change in the workplace of many health care specialists/physicians. Installing new equipment and re-training employees would not only take a lot of time but it would also cost a fortune.

Doctors indicated that the time and cost to train their employees will be too great of a challenge for them (Ford, Menachemi, Philips, 2006). All employees and physicians’ jobs would have to be altered in a way to accommodate the new technology. Practising based on the use of the EHR systems could possible slow them down. Furthermore, doctors refuse to implement these systems because they lack typing skills and are not comfortable with the system (Ford et al. , 2006). For that reason, they choose to practise the way they like to so they could avoid present and future problems.

Implementing EHR’s could be Costly The cost to install these machines and computers could cost a lot of money. Not only the cost to install these machines but the cost to maintain and make sure all the machines are functioning to proper standards may dig a hole in physician’s pockets and cut profit margins drastically. Seventy-four percent of doctors indicated maintenance costs being a huge reason that they do not want to implement the EHR’s in their clinics (Ash, 2004). Fifty percent of doctors were unclear that the investment would pay off (Ash, 2004).

Per doctor/physician, it would cost approximately $32,000 to implement this system in a clinic (Ash, 2004). For a clinic with ten doctors, the cost would therefore be $320,000. Thirty-two percent of doctors indicated on having staff members with sub-par expertise in technology (Ash, 2004). All these barriers add up and doctors continue to disagree with adopting these EHR systems. There are so many cost and problems involved with implementing these systems that doctors rather avoid these problems by not installing these systems and continue to do business the way they normally do.

The main problem here is that doctors need to know the benefits of implementing these systems in their clinics to further understand how much easier it could be to practise. They must understand how the benefits will outweigh the costs. Economy Playing a Role in the Adoption of EHR’s The economy has been in a critical position since the recession of 2008. Many individuals that require medical attention are choosing not to seek treatment due to not having enough income for any medical services or required drugs. This has had a major impact on the business of many doctors (Vishwanath, Scamurra, 2007).

The struggle to raise money and capital had been a problem for many doctors and physicians over the past couple of years. This is a primary reason why they do not seek to invest their capital into some of the new technologies (Vishwanath, Scamurra, 2007). Many doctors want these systems in their clinics but they do not have the means to install and purchase these systems. Even hospitals are said to be having a difficult time implementing these systems due to the economic problems that many countries are facing (Thakkar, Davis, 2006).

Only the larger clinics and hospitals are implementing these systems while the smaller ones continue to practise the way they normally do. A study that consulted more than 3000 hospitals found out that 7. 6% of larger hospitals had EHR’s implemented while smaller hospitals only had 1. 2% of them containing EHR’s (Thakkar, Davis, 2006). Nevertheless, both these percentage are far from what the government and stakeholders have in mind as they want at least half the clinics and hospitals to implement these system within the next couple of years (Zandieh et al. , 2008).

The better approach here would be to wait until the economy starts to recover. Different approach should be taken Slow and steadily implementing EHR systems in clinics and hospitals will greatly ease the process of implementing these machines. The government could possibly play a huge role in this sector and can provide many opportunities for current doctors and future doctors to slowly implement EHR systems into almost every clinic or hospital. Forcing medical students to learn these systems in medical school will definitely increase the amount of doctors using EHR’s in the future.

More than eighty percent of medical students said they would love to use this system once working in a clinic or hospital (Baron, Fabens, Schiffman, Wolf, 2005). This shows how determined the new generation wants to use these systems because they understand how to use technology and know how much time they will save by doing so. Also the government/stakeholders should try to enforce current doctors to continue their medical education requirements and learn these new procedures (Baron et al. , 2005).

Once these physicians adapt to the new systems, more and more physicians will also want to learn and the number of users using EHR’s will grow significantly. While all of this could be done gradually, the government has plans to make all doctors/physicians to adopt EHR’s by 2014 (Tang et al. , 2006). The government has the wrong approach because they are trying to implement these systems too fast and doctors are feeling pressured. The government is not explaining to doctors how to use these systems and what benefits are imposed by it.

As a result, doctors and physicians do not understand all the benefits EHR’s possesses and agree not to implement these systems in their practises. Stakeholders are providing a ‘Pay for Preference’ (P4P) programs in that some of the costs will be covered by the government and stakeholders (Tang et al. , 2006). However, doctors/physicians find that both government/stakeholders are trying to over influence this medical practise. Doctors feel pressured and agree not to adopt these systems in their clinic and hospitals. (Tang et al. 2006) The job should be to teach and not force because no one like to listen when they are being pressured to do something they do not like. That is the reason why a slower approach should be taken in order to implement EHR’s in every clinic and hospital in the world. Alternate Options for Government and Stakeholders By now, we understand that a slower approach needs to be taken to properly implement these systems into every clinic and hospital in the world. However, the government and stakeholders need to step up to make this dream of theirs a reality.

There are many issues why these doctors are not implementing these systems and it is up to the government and stakeholders to solve these issues. For example, since smaller hospitals and clinics cannot afford EHR’s, they should provide funding for them to reduce the costs of implementing these systems (Ash, 2004). There are always sacrifices that people have to make to do something correctly and helping small clinics and hospitals is definitely an issue that the government/stakeholder must provide a solution to.

Also, the government and stakeholders should think of creative ways to inform the doctors that are not willing to use these systems all the benefits EHR’s provide. There are always cases where someone will not buy or use something until they see and use it themselves. Perhaps when more doctors see the benefits of EHR’s, more doctors/physicians will eventually embrace these systems and want them in their clinics or hospitals as quick as possible (Ash, 2004). The government and stakeholders also have the choice of taking a more subtle approach.

Since the number of doctors in Canada and many other countries are continuously growing every year, they may want to wait until the new generation comes around. This way, they will save a lot of time and stress by not having to force older doctors to adopt EHR’s in their clinics or hospitals. Medical students who are aiming to become doctors are growing up with technology so a lot of them would have no problem using these machineries. These are just some of the many ossibilities the government and stakeholders could do to help doctors and physicians embrace and implement EHR’s into every hospital and clinic around the whole world. The effects of EHR’s on Doctors Office Space &Time Slowly implementing EHR’s will in turn lead to great benefits in the future. EHR’s will save doctors and physician a lot of space and time in their clinics. Some doctors have piles of documents/records of patient’s medical history in their clinics that take up valuable space that may be used for other purposes.

There are some doctors that dedicate up to two rooms for patients medical records (Zandieh et al. , 2008). Furthermore, the time it takes for secretaries and doctors to continuously look for each and every patient’s document that walks through the door may waste a lot of time. Rather, an extra treatment room could possibly be made to further enhance business for doctors (Zandieh et al. , 2008). Doctors will also be using less paper, as they will become more eco-friendly and saves lots of money by not having to purchase folders and so many papers anymore.

Studies have shown that they may save up to $5000 a year in paper costs. Over a twenty year span, that equates to $100,000 (Drake et al. , 2005). Doctors will have everything on their computers so they will no longer need to search for folders or misplaced papers (Thakkar, Davis, 2006). This will save doctors/physicians a great deal of time. Doctors will also have an easier time when practising as they will just need the name of the patient to directly open their medical history. Doctors will also make fewer mistakes because they will have an entire medical history of the patients.

Doctors will know certain things about patients such as what they are allergic to, what medical conditions they have and what prior illnesses they had that may affect which antibiotic they can or cannot take (Thakkar, Davis, 2006). With all these possible benefits, doctors will save both a lot of time and space while facilitating their clinics. The main issue now is focusing on how doctors will embrace this change an implement these systems in their clinics. The benefits of EHR’s on the world EHR’s will definitely impact Canada and the rest of the world in numerous ways but a slower approach should be taken.

EHR’s have so much to offer doctors and can save doctors, nurses or any other health associates loads of time. Doctors and nurses could save up to an hour a day and secretaries working in clinics could save up to two hours a day (Hillestad, Bigelow, Bower, Girosi, Meili, Scoville, 2005). But the problem is not implementing these systems but rather, educating everyone how to use these machines effectively and efficiently. Once every health associate is trained and can use these systems properly, the delivery and quality of health care can improve vastly.

When data gets entered through these systems, access to these records is very easy. This is efficient for people that go on vacation or travel a lot. Doctors around the world will be connected through their computers and have records of every patients medical history through the EHR’s (Hillestad, 2005). Moving to a more paper-less environment will save doctors a lot of money. But this also leads to happier patients and pharmacists because in many cases, pharmacists have a difficult time reading doctor’s hand writing. When everything is printed out, anyone could easily read what has been typed.

EHR’s are estimated to save up to 81 billion dollars annually if every country begins to use it (Ford et al. , 2006). EHR systems have many benefits that outweigh the costs but waiting may be the best option to implement these systems in each and every clinic or hospital. With many medical students being in school, medical schools should promote the study of using these systems which will eventually lead to greater numbers of doctors/nurses using these features when older. Also for the doctors that are soon to be retiring, there is no point in trying to enforce them to use this system.

It may be a complete waste of money for them because they may not have a significant chance to even use them. Therefore, we should continue to enforce learning practises in medical school and continue to educate young to middle aged doctors to embrace EHR’s. Conclusion Implementing EHR’s in Canada is difficult due to the lack of knowledge doctors have in technology. With many doctors being at an age where they were not exposed to technology as kids, they lack the skill of using computers and technology efficiently.

Instead they continue with the way they facilitate business, by writing everything down on paper. Since governments and stakeholders are the individuals promoting this new technology, they should be the one supporting each hospital and clinic with these machines. However, implementing EHR’s rapidly may not be the best option. A slower approach should be taken so that every physician can learn all the procedures properly and begin to use these electronic records on a daily basis. According to a report, 86. 6% of doctors/physicians will be using EHR’s by 2024 (Hillestad et al. , 2005).

This number is reasonable as it gives ample time for doctors and employees working a chance to understand how to facilitate these new technologies and use them efficiently. Although implementing EHR’s is difficult at the time like this, Canada should still try to implements these systems but at a slower pace so that the majority of doctors/physicians can learn to use and embrace EHR’s. The job should not to implement these systems but rather, educate individuals on how to use these systems effectively. This will help the overall health sector in the future and lead to happier patients.