Why physicians still use paper records instead of EHRs

More and more medical practices are switching over from paper based record keeping to EHRs and practice management software every year. However adoption rates among doctors have not been uniform, with 30% of family physicians and over 59% of pediatricians still using traditional paper charts and files.

Here are a few reasons often cited by non-adopters for not using electronic systems:

1. EHRs are too complicated

Any software system can be loaded with features, but doctors won’t use it if it is too complicated. A simple and intuitive design which can enable physicians to navigate quickly through the application and enter patient data rapidly is much more valuable than dozens of features which will remain unused. Most EHRs are designed by engineers and may not actually be useful in the daily workflow of a clinical practice. Some EHR vendors have consultant doctors on board for precisely this reason – to get inputs from the professionals who will be using their programs.

2. Fears of security for digital files

Improper handling can leave any system vulnerable to security breaches, but EHRs are simply safer overall than paper records. Anyone who can manage to access paper files can read them. Digital files are encrypted so that even if someone steals them, the data is safe since it will be undecipherable.

Any employee of a clinic can easily modify data for malicious purposes and there is no way to know who altered a particular set of records. EHRs track users and file changes so it is easy to pinpoint the person who accessed a compromised file.

Physical records are also in danger from natural catastrophes such as fire or earthquakes. Cloud-based EHRs use off-site secure servers to house patient data which ensures safe access to data at all times.

3. Forced to change

Paper charts have been in use for decades in the medical industry and a lot of physicians have difficulty in making the transition. Although giving up well established workflows can be hard, EHRs offer many benefits that it is worth the effort of changing. No more chasing after lab reports or forgetting to sign off on documents. Many EHRs also include advanced analytics and generate periodic reports which can be helpful in identifying areas of improvement for the clinic. Choosing the right software for your clinic can dramatically boost office productivity.

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