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EHR Benefit – Legibility of Notes

Posted on December 12, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ve hinted for a little while that I was going to start a series of posts talking about the various benefits of using an EHR. I think this is an important subject worth discussing in greater detail. I hope that this series of posts will also help us move past meaningful use of an EHR for the government EHR money and explore all the other reasons why healthcare should fully adopt an EHR.

Back when I first started blogging about EMR software (It was 2005, before the term EHR came to be), I made this list of EMR and EHR benefits over paper charts. I’ll be using that list as the starting point for this series of EHR Benefit posts. I love the first paragraph on that page (which I likely haven’t touched since 2005):

This list is just a starting point to list off all the possible benefits of having an EMR or EHR. Probably a poor one, but a start nonetheless. My plan is for this list to grow over time as I think of new benefits or as people suggest things I’ve most certainly missed. Also, I think that most people often focus too much on the financial benefits of an EMR and so hopefully this list will include financial and other benefits beyond the financial implications.

The list definitely did grow, but I guess I never got around to updating the intro paragraph. Although, I am pleased to see that even back in 2005 I was as interested in the non-financial benefits of EHR. Certainly the financial benefits of EHR are incredibly important, but far too many people don’t take into account the other non-financial benefits in their analysis of EHR benefits. It’s just too hard for many to try and compare or put a value on the non-financial benefits of EHR. We’ll try to point these benefits out just the same.

Now for the first EHR benefit on the list:

Legibility of Notes
I’m really glad to start with an EHR benefit that everyone can understand with little explanation. Poor medical handwriting has been a running challenge in healthcare for as long as we’ve been documenting patient visits. I did a quick search on Google for “write like a doctor” and it had about 321 million results. That’s quite pervasive.

I can’t think of anyone that would argue that healthcare doesn’t have a challenge reading physician’s handwriting. No doubt there are plenty of exceptions to this, but even those with beautiful handwriting still have to read other doctors’ handwriting from their own office or from other doctors’ notes that get sent to their office. It’s great to have the notes, but if you can’t read them then what’s the point.

While certainly illegible handwriting is a major problem in the office, it also extends outside the office as well. Think of all the times pharmacists have had to call a doctor to clarify the prescription a patient brought in. Even worse than that is the number of times the pharmacist misread a script because a doctor’s handwriting is illegible. This becomes a non-issue in an electronic world where the prescription is either printed or ePrescribed.

Of course, none of this is new territory. Every doctor understands these benefits better than I’ve explained here. However, far too often when we think about implementing an EHR, we forget about these simple and easy to understand benefits. How much time is saved in your clinic by being able to read the handwriting in the chart? How much time is saved in healthcare when referrals come in an easy to read, legible format? How much time and how many lives are saved by pharmacists getting the proper prescription to the patient? All of these are hard measures to quantify, but they are real, tangible benefits of an EHR.

I won’t mislead you into thinking the shift from paper charts to EHR solves all the legibility problems. Many template driven EHR software that creates a mass of mostly irrelevant data can be just as hard to decipher as the hieroglyphic handwriting of some doctors. However, I’ve seen a tidal wave of push back against these documentation approaches and I think we’re getting better. I think the shift to quality of care reimbursement versus procedure based reimbursement will help this to go away as well.

There are other things a clinic leaves behind with paper charts. I’ve heard many tell me how many times they looked at the handwriting to recognize who had documented something in a paper chart. Certainly that same info is available in an EHR, but you do lose the instant recognition of who charted what in the chart.

Despite not being able to put a nice dollar value on the Legibility of Notes, it’s certainly an EHR benefit that can’t be forgotten. It’s very easy to adopt an EHR and take this for granted.

The Patient’s Guide Reveals How iPhone Dominates Mobile Health Research

Posted on I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Over a 2-year period, The Patient’s Guide compiled information concerning mobile engagement trends from over 12 million visitors. They were looking to see if there was a trend toward mobile computing for healthcare research versus traditional desktop computing, and how big it was. During this research, The Patient’s Guide discovered how the iPhone pretty much dominates in this arena. 

According to the research, these are the top 10 devices used for finding medical information:

1. iPhone

2. iPad

3. iPod

4. Sony Xperia

5. Samsung Galaxy

6. HTC EVO

7. Motorola Dorid

8. Blackberry

9. HTC INcredible

10. T-Mobile MyTouch

I’m not surprised by these results at all. I mean, almost every health app I look at is available for the iPhone, many available for Android devices, and it’s really hit or miss for Blackberry or Windows’ devices. Not only did this study determine this top ten list, but also found the following interesting facts:

  • 94% increase in consumer medical searches using iPhone in 2012 when compared to 2011
  • An estimated 1.5 million searched for medical information using their iPhone in the last 12 months using Patient’s Guide websites alone
  • iPhone captures 41% of total mobile medical traffic
  • 20% male/80% female searching for medical information online
  • 1 in 3 cell phone owners (31%) have used their phone to look for health information

information submitted by Brittney Roberts, Director of Marketing Communications at The Patient’s Guide

I found a lot of these findings fascinating, particularly that 80 percent of those searching for medical information online are females. It makes sense to me, at least from what I’ve been exposed to. I look at my husband and I. I’m always online, researching different ailments that I’m sure one of us has, and then there’s my husband, who I doubt has ever even been to WebMD. Perhaps women tend to worry more, or even just feel more of an obligation to search out medical information? Who knows. Either way, it’s an interesting finding.

And again, it’s amazing just how many people are using the iPhone. Personally, I don’t like the iPhone, but obviously, it’s very popular, especially among people wanting health information. I wonder why that is — any suggestions?

And finally, it’s crazy that a 1/3 of cell phone users have used their phone to look up health information. I’m not sure if that’s referring to those with smart phones, or just all cell phone users in general, but still, crazy. Though, part of me is surprised it isn’t more.

The news release about this suggests that there are number of different factors influencing these trends, such as “government regulations and insurance reimbursements, as well as the evolution of mobile computing devices such as the new iPad mini.” I definitely feel like this numbers are only going to continue to grow. mHealth just makes things so much more convinient in my opinion (for the most part, at least.)

The Patient’s Guide also created a neat infographic concerning the data found in their study:

To learn more about the study conducted by The Patient’s Guide, follow this link to the infographic/news release.