Electronic health records (EHRs) are a good thing, right? According to HealthIT.gov, the advantages of EHRs are legion, starting with accurate, up-to-date, and complete patient information and including secure data sharing, improved provider productivity, reducing costs, and more. We’ve written about EHRs helping arrange patient transport, patient satisfaction with electronic records, and a study that shows that EHRs (also known as EMRs) can improve mental health.

Patients may be EHR fans, but doctors? Not so much, according to a recent report. In “The Future of Healthcare – A National Survey of Physicians – 2018” by The Doctors Company, a majority of 3,412 physicians surveyed had only negative opinions of EHRs. According to the report, 61% of the doctors surveyed believe EHRs negatively impact efficiency and productivity. Workflow also suffers with EHRs, say another 61%. Citing EHRs as distracting and burdensome during patient interactions, 54% of docs indicated they believed the electronic record-keeping systems harm physician-patient relationships.

Medical practice is changing in step with all other facets of healthcare. Electronic health records are relatively new to the profession. When I see my primary care physician for my annual physical, he spends more time updating a mobile PC app while he talks to me than fully engaging. I’ve observed medical specialists with assistants who tag along during patient meetings solely to take notes and update EHRs. Hopefully improved user interfaces and new systems will improve EHR efficiency in time. While some physician pushback on EHRs may stem from generalized resistance to change, many of the current input systems apparently need more work in order to achieve the potential benefits without exacting too much of a cost for patient interaction.