What happens when doctors don't like their electronic health record programs? They return them, of course.
Unfortunately, the transaction isn't as convenient as returning a sweater. You don't present a receipt, get cash back and move on with your life.
Swapping these fragile banks of private health information for different models means not only scouring the market for a new EHR vendor, but also retraining staff and inputting excessive data. In short, physicians may face longer days and more work - two things no one likes.
Clinicians demand R.E.S.P.E.C.T
Still, many clinicians are so unhappy with their products that they may be willing to make these sacrifices. According to a report conducted by Software Advice, more clinicians than ever before are switching EHR vendors. The No. 1 reason? They're dissatisfied.
"More clinicians than ever before are switching EHR vendors."
Software Advice has been tracking clinicians' opinions on EHRs for six years, and this one marks the first time that the amount of healthcare professionals who are switching EHRs outnumbers those who are purchasing them.
In 2010, 63 percent of participants said they were working to replace paper methods with EHRs. However, in 2015, this number dipped to 37 percent. Over the years, there's been a 59 percent upswing in EHR software replacement.
Because the majority of participants have decided to change EHRs, it leads to the question: When exactly do things start going south once an EHR is purchased? Are frustrations as glaring as a tear in a new sweater or are they subtle, like a cheap piece of fabric?
When anger rears its head
As Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, health economist and advisor, explained to Software Advice, frustrations can happen as early as the day of the purchase.
"Implementation is really the hardest part, because it's so disruptive to the workflow," she said. "It's the job of the vendor to allocate as much passion, research and design to implementation as they do to a product release."
Moreover, many clinicians don't think EHRs are as nimble as they're supposed to be. These systems are prone to crashing, and in some cases the user has to click around excessively to arrive at his or her digital destination, stated Healthcare IT News. Simply put, some EHRs aren't user-friendly.
There's also the issue of vendors leaving their clients. Healthcare IT News quoted Gaby Loira, market research associate at Software Advice, who made an excellent point: A lot of vendors are undergoing merges or going out of business.
Clearly if a company goes out of business, EHR vendors have no choice but to surrender their clients. However, places that are still in business might aim to improve the negative aspects of EHRs underscored in the report to save face.
Accessories for your EHR
The report stated that many buyers while shopping for EHRs, were searching for functionality in terms of tracking patients, customization and regulatory compliance capabilities. As EHR buyers gain more hands-on experience with the technology, vendors will have to bend to the needs of healthcare professionals or run the risk of shutting down just like a retail store that doesn't resonate with its demographic.
Luckily, there are other tools available to clinicians to make their work days easier. In addition to devoting time to finding the right EHR, physicians should simultaneously shop for complementary systems like the patient portal.
Healthjump's patient portal offers streamlined communications from doctor to doctor and doctor to patient that's easy to use and compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The portal allows clinicians to be more organized, which makes patients happier and more likely to take ownership of their own health.
Why not be choosey about your patient portal while you're aggressively selecting an EHR vendor? The more technologies to make clinicians' lives easier, the better.