Reshaping Oncology Care Delivery and Payments - Episode 11

Practical Application and Utility of EMRs

Electronic medical records (EMRs), in theory, can provide efficiencies and allow for the collection of vast amounts of data. In practice, however, there are many inherent issues. There are significant inaccuracies in EMRs, notes Andrew Pecora, MD.

There is huge variability in the way physicians use EMRs, in part because data entry requires so much additional work, physicians soon implement “workarounds,” says Jeffrey C. Ward, MD. For example, physicians may decide to add details to the notes section rather than check the appropriate boxes. This is problematic because that information is not captured.

The time spent on documentation is more of a concern in hospice, adds Ward, where nurses are paid a daily rate regardless of how much time they spend documenting their actions. It is important to have a system that is useful to physicians that does not inadvertently put them in a position of having to prove what they did or did not do. EMRs should be aligned with the goal of providing high-quality care.

The intent behind EMRs is still a worthwhile aspiration, states Michael Kolodziej, MD. Using EMRs may be the only way that meaningful, real-world data can be collected on a scale that will allow better healthcare decisions to be made.