Accommodating Docs That Dislike EHRS

May 12, 2011

We’re sure there are at least a few physicians you know (maybe at your practice?) who are like old dogs when it comes to documentations. But would those physicians and staff most unwilling to learn new tricks actually quit if forced to change?

We’re sure there are at least a few physicians you know (maybe at your practice?) who are like old dogs when it comes to documentations. But would those physicians and staff most unwilling to learn new tricks actually quit if forced to change? 

Probably not. But when news broke a couple of weeks ago that an Eastern Massachusetts physician quit practicing medicine because he couldn’t handle using his practice’s EHR, it alarmed many a practice manager who wondered if the worst was possible: According to news reports, the physician stated that his decision came from “not being able to type and feeling very awkward in the use of computer documentation.”

And though we don’t see this happening too often (this is the only news story we’ve seen of its kind so far), it’s always a good idea to prepare for that possibility. Even better, practices should use preventative strategies good PR professionals use before disaster strikes, and make a good faith effort to help all who are cursing the day CMS uttered the words ‘meaningful use.’

Some of the suggestions we’ve seen for EHR haters include big-screen monitors, digital pens, computer-based typing courses, and voice-recognition software.

If a small investment ($6,000 or less) is an option, voice recognition technology is perhaps the most widely recognized option to assist providers who struggle with EHRs. As of our 2010 technology survey, a little more than one out of five practices (22 percent of 540) reported using it. Many of those practices (57 percent) have reported that they are able to do away with transcription costs because of it.

As expected, many of the physicians who end up purchasing voice-recognition technology are physicians who can’t type faster than 30 words per minute. Others include those who have limited abilities with their hands, or foreign-born physicians, said Keith Belton, senior director of product marketing for Nuance’s Dragon Medical voice-recognition software.

“Thirty percent of doctors in this country weren’t’ born in this country,” said Belton, adding that his company’s flagship product is tailored to do speech-to-text for physicians with Japanese, Australian, Pakistani, and other common accents.

As more providers have taken up EHRs, Dragon has been busy forming partnerships with major EHR vendors.

“For many practices, when they buy an EHR they buy voice recognition [technology] at the same time to make the EHR much more straightforward.”

We’d like to hear from you. What is your practice doing to help train physicians to use EHRs? How well is it working? Post your response below.