EHR: The Real Reason Why Doctors Quit
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EHR: The Real Reason Why Doctors Quit


When you visit a doctor, you desire the doctor’s complete attention. After all, it is about your health. Equipped with years of training and experience, the doctor listens carefully as you share the reasons for the visit. Until recently nothing in the exam room was more important to a doctor than the well-being of his patient. But that now has changed. The exam room now has a government-sent distractor. Thanks to the government-mandated electronic health record (EHR) our doctor’s eyes and attention are now divided between the patient and a computer screen.

Government agencies and health IT technology companies are using the EHR to exploit the patient-physician relationship for their own ulterior motives. To get paid, doctors now have to spend long hours clicking boxes and engaging in clerical activities in the EHR to prove compliance with the demands of these third parties. 

Kevin Gebke, MD, from the Indiana University Health in Indianapolis, describing the reason that makes using EHRs a pain said, “EHRs were not designed by practicing clinicians and are not intuitive regarding the different processes that take place during a patient encounter. Physicians must often choose between communicating with the patient and navigating within the records to enter or view relevant data. That can fragment care during a patient visit.”

Collaborating Gebke’s resentment is a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic Proceedings which showed that physicians who are uncomfortable using EHRs are more likely to reduce hours or leave the profession.

Tom Davis, MD, FAAFP, a medical practitioner with over 25 years of experience said that he was forced to quit his successful practice because of EHR. He cited its use as being distracting and ethically wrong as it made the doctors share confidential doctor-patient information. The burnout caused by EHS was more than he could handle.

“I had 3,000 patients, many I’ve known for a quarter century, a few hundred of which I delivered, all immensely valuable relationships—and all burned to the ground mostly because of the burdens of the HITECH Act,” he says. “The demands of data entry, the use of that data to direct care and my overall uncertainty about how medical data was used in aggregate all helped poison the well from which my passion for serving my patients was drawn.”

When asked to quantify the increase in burden, he said that for every minute of face-to-face time he spent with a patient, he had to spend about four minutes with the computer.

The stress of EHRs is so bad that many of his Harvard classmates from 1975 are thinking about quitting medicine, Charles Krauthammer, a Harvard Medical School-trained doctor and a columnist for the Washington Post said. “Virtually every doctor and doctors’ group I speak to cite the same litany, with particular bitterness about the EHR mandate. He said that he agrees his classmate’s opinion that, “the introduction of the electronic medical record into our office has created so much more need for documentation that I can only see about three-quarters of the patients I could before, and has prompted me to seriously consider leaving for the first time.”

Studies show a growing dissatisfaction among physicians due to the forced implementation of the system. The most frequently cited reasons are a loss in productivity due to documentation demands (85 percent) and seeing fewer patients (66 percent). There is a growing feeling among doctors that in the quest of government agencies and private IT companies to gather as much information possible about citizens, they have been reduced to mere data entry clerks.

A group of healthcare CEOs, in 2017, identified EHRs as a contributing factor to a physician’s burnout. They jointly agreed that EHRs have “radically altered and disrupted established workflows and patient interactions [and have] become a source of interruptions and distraction and are very time intensive.”

In a 2018 survey, 40 percent of physicians said EHRs have resulted in more challenges than benefits. Almost 60 percent of them strongly feel that EHRs need a complete overhaul for it to be of any practical use. The doctors also cited patient safety as a concern due to the unnecessary distractions caused by the system.

Providing a solution, a physician said that EHRs could be improved if they were created “by and for physicians, not administrators and technogeeks.”

To a patient, it might seem that EHRs are a computerized version of a paper medical record. But is it not true. It is a lie that is being spread so as to keep the patients in the dark in fear that if they come to know of its real intentions they might protest as well. In fact, EHR is a giant data-collecting surveillance system imposed by Congress for purposes that have nothing to do with patient care and everything to do with outsider control of the exam room. This intrusive system is compromising the health-related information of the ordinary American citizens and causing the doctors to burn out, retire early and leave their patients behind.

In a country that is already facing an acute shortage of trained doctors, and with reports suggesting that by 2030 there will be a lacuna of over 100,000 doctors, implementation of EHR is proving to be an albatross around the neck. The forced implementation of EHR must be stopped before it’s too late to save America’s physicians and patients from this dangerous intruder.

Author: Pradeep Banerjee