Don’t Act Like Charting on Paper Was Fast

Posted on May 23, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

One of the things I hear people talk about all the time is how much time they spend charting in their EMR. There’s little question that doctors, nurses, and front desk staff’s lives revolve around an EMR when one is implemented in an office. However, the same was true with the paper chart.

How many times have we hear doctors say, “I’ve got a stack of paper charts I have to finish.”? Or the phrase, “I’m drowning in charting.” It happened all the time even in the paper chart world. Why else would a doctor take a stack of paper charts home with them in their car. It wasn’t for some light reading at night. It was so they could catch up on their paper charting (yes, some took them home for their hospital rounds too).

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that we should give inefficient and poorly designed EMR software a pass. Absolutely not! I am saying that far too many people forget how inefficient paper could be and how the charting and documentation requirements took a lot of time before EMR as well.

In my EHR benefits series, I wrote about the efficiency benefits of Legible Notes and Accessible Charts. I’ve heard many doctors talk about how templates help make them more efficient when it comes to charting. I know many doctors who can touch type so quickly that they can’t imagine writing a paper chart anymore. I know many doctors who use a scribe and see amazing efficiency with charting.

On the other side, I know some who hate their EMR. Their EMR is so slow that they can barely chart in it. They get overwhelmed by the clicks. They spend hours trying to find the right diagnosis or code or template. They have stacks of EMR charts waiting for them to finish charting.

The reality is that you can paint the EMR picture either way. I’ve seen both sides of the story happen many times. However, far too many who ridicule the inefficiencies of EMR seem to forget the inefficiency of paper.