One common frustration for practices that have either adopted a new electronic medical record (EMR) for the first time or have switched EMR vendors is the lack of “intuition” of the new system. We live in a modern age where technology changes at rapid speed and we expect these EMRs to operate like social media or a banking app which most technology novices can learn to use in a matter of minutes.

Here are several reasons why EMRs aren’t intuitive and some suggestions on how to make them more intuitive.

Very few people take identical approaches to completing tasks.

Think of your brain like a hard drive in a computer. When you’re born, there’s very little information in the hard drive. As you get older, the hard drive continues to store information such as facts, beliefs, and processes, then changes the information based on personal experiences. No matter how difficult your daily tasks are, your “hard drive” determines how you accomplish those tasks, or if you choose not to do them. Someone else will go about the same tasks in a different manner, and it’s not necessarily the wrong way to do them.

People build EMRs. While they must come to a consensus in most areas, their way of thinking is likely going to be different than users who are logging in to the EMR for the first time and trying to navigate their way around.

Not every patient has the same medical needs.

There are more than 70,000 ICD-10 codes. On a typical day, a clinic will use 50 to 75 codes. Some will be more complex than others which will demand more complex treatments. If every patient had the common cold, an EMR could be very basic. Obviously, that isn’t the case.

Contrary to some beliefs, a computer can’t read your mind.

EMRs produce results based on instructions, not on brain waves or thoughts. (This really isn’t a bad thing.)

What can be done to make EMRs more intuitive?

Use templates wherever possible.

Any time you do something repeatedly, it becomes habit. Creating a template for a progress note or a telephone encounter will tell the EMR you are going to take the same action and it will remember.

Understand there is a learning curve.

If you have worked in an EMR for a while, you know how to get from point A to point B.  When you switch to a new EMR, you’re still going to get from point A to point B but think of this analogy: the road you take might be under construction or closed and you’ll need to take a detour. You may have to listen to your GPS the first few times, but it will eventually stick.

Reach out for help.

Medical Advantage Electronic Health Record Consulting Services offers workflow assessment, eClincialWorks training, optimization, implementations, and more. We help physicians and medical practices to leverage the full functionality of the their EHR to improve patient care and to succeed in the value-based health care market. Learn more about our Electronic Health Record Support Services.

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