The best physician can make a mistake when writing a prescription, the best nurse can fail to remove a catheter on time, the most organized medical records staff can misplace a file, and even top hospitals have areas of waste and inefficiency. But electronic health records systems are supposed to make all that go away, right?
Well, not exactly.
Whatever you may hear from Washington policy-makers, EHR is not going to solve all of healthcare's quality and patient safety problems. HIM professionals at last week's meeting of the American Health Information Management Association in Orlando made that much clear.
In one session, aptly titled The Top Ten Urban Myths of an EHR, presenters Ann Meehan and Julia Kendrick, health information administrators at Ardent Health Services, a seven-hospital system based in Nashville, talked about their organization's journey to EHR—and the lessons they learned along the way about the futility of pursuing perfection.
In 2009, Ardent Health Services had a piecemeal approach to electronic access to medical records data in its acute care and rehabilitation facilities. Ardent knew it needed to standardize information systems across acute care and rehabilitation facilities in its markets and recognized that having one system would improve patient care, processes, data reporting, flexibility, and information systems support. After months of planning and hard work, McKesson's STAR system was implemented, using Horizon Patient Folder to convert paper medical records to electronic.
But when the successful implementation ended, Meehan and Kendrick said, they began to uncover some myths about EHRs.