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Simple EHRs help with physician retainment, while advanced ones drive them away

The EHR systems that caused the most headaches, and drove physicians away, typically featured computerized order entry or physician documentation.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Physicians can sometimes become frustrated with the complexity and administrative burdens imposed by electronic health records, driving them to burnout in some cases. But a new study shows that simple EHRs can actually help hospital and health systems retain physicians longer.

The EHR systems that caused the most headaches, and drove physicians away in certain instances, typically featured computerized order entry or physician documentation, which can often suck up physicians' time and wrest their attention away from patient care.

Using data from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's Hospital Inpatient Dataset from 2000 to 2010, researchers found that complex EHRs didn't necessarily drive physicians to early retirement, or to other professions.

They did, however, push physicians to hospitals that were less advanced in terms of their EHR capabilities. And those physicians stick around. Their tenures were longer than those of their peers in complicated EHR environments.

The authors point out that there are benefits to having a strong EHR in place, as they often can reduce errors and result in cost savings. When problems arise is when physicians are forced to alter their routines, and older physician are more likely to feel put out by the imposition.

Lack of EHR interoperability can further compound the issue. A lot of physicians are no longer limited to just one facility, and many handle rounds at multiple hospitals and/or practices; if each has its own EMR system that doesn't necessarily communicate with the others, it can be a growing headache.

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com