Although EHRs are almost universal today, many employers and physicians are not satisfied with their current implementation as they are often cumbersome, inflexible, and difficult to use.
If your practice is still struggling through the implementation process, I suggest that you consider hiring or assigning a tech-savvy PA to lead the project.
Why a PA? First, as the only other providers educated in the medical model, we are taught to think like physicians think. A certified PA can be an effective proxy for the physician in the EHR implementation process. Second, the PA profession is technologically-savvy and young; the median age of certified PAs is 38. Using an electronic template to capture patient information, assessment and the treatment plan comes naturally to us.
I began my career as a certified physician assistant (PA-C) eight years ago with a private orthopaedic surgery group whose office was mostly paper based. Because I had an education in and interest in technology, I was involved in the practice's EHR planning. I have since worked with three different EHR systems, and based on that experience, I offer three facts:
• EHRs are a critical part of our job. We all have to find a way to make them work well.
• "Meaningful use" translates into dollars toward practice profitability.
• No patient encounter is complete without the provider's note.
Here are ways certified PAs can help improve EHR acceptance and success.