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5 EHR Myths, Busted

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, October 5, 2010

Here are five of the myths they encountered and what they discovered about them:

  1. Broken HIM processes will be fixed: In fact, broken processes become more apparent in an electronic environment, where reports provide solid data relative to backlogs, timeliness, and ownership.
  2. Chart reconciliation will be over: Nope—with the implementation of an EHR, chart reconciliation is even more important than in the paper world, where the lack of a record is physical evidence of the charts needed for processing, they said. In the electronic environment, varying percentages of charts are interfaced into the electronic health record. Without chart reconciliation, the speakers noted, you are “working in the dark.”
  3. No more missing charts: This is simply not the case, Meehan and Kendrick said. Charts can be scanned to the wrong account number or the documentation may be split across many account numbers. Patient Access registration errors, interface issues, ancillary department errors or providers who do not want to “let go” of charts can also cause trouble.
  4. No more paper: Very funny. Clinicians and providers still love paper and want it in hand. In a hybrid environment, dictated reports are printed and placed in binders on nursing units, despite the fact that the same reports are available electronically, they said.
  5. Greater efficiency: Well, maybe. While an EHR provides significantly increased efficiencies, there are also some inherent inefficiencies. One information system does not meet all needs, regardless of how thoroughly evaluated or how extensive the client base.

The point of all this is not to say that EHRs are evil. In fact, the speakers agreed, they are necessary—for patient care, for sharing information internally and across the healthcare continuum in a timely and efficient manner, for expeditiously tracking and reporting quality indicators, for meeting regulatory requirements, and for timely billing and payment.

But to overlook the potential problems caused when you implement electronic health records is to miss an opportunity to use the system to its fullest advantage. It's important to share information among HIM, IT, and senior leadership, paying attention to problems and solutions. Only then can an organization really understand the power of the EHR. 

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1 comments on "5 EHR Myths, Busted"


Beth Friedman (10/6/2010 at 12:15 PM)
Gienna, Thank you so much for raising executive-level awareness of HIM issues during and after an EHR implementation. There are many. As an HIM professional and consultant to HIM vendors, I believe that medical records will be in a "hybrid" phase for many years for the reasons you mention. And that's okay. Sometimes paper workarounds, dictation, transcription and many other traditional tools are simply faster, more productive and cost less. HIM's traditional tools may not ever dissapear, just be used in a different way.