Calls for Compassion in Health Care: Pity the EHR User!

Response to yesterday’s post on training for compassion included some fascinating videos.

I was encouraged to review the Cleveland Clinic’s masterful empathy piece which asks us to look around the hospital and consider the stories of the people there:

In the meantime, a physician I’ve known for 25 years posted this cri de coeur on his facebook page

It’s hard to overstate how strongly the current miserable state of the Electronic Health Record is affecting provider morale, at least among the majority of providers who came up before the EHR existed. Young people in training are growing up with this tech and pretty much LOVE being able to find the chart from anywhere. If you’ve never had the freedom to spend an entire patient encounter without having to deal with a keyboard, you tend not to miss it.

Tucked into this critique is a shout out to Epocrates, which is a reference app with a very good phone interface. Docs love Epocrates, while hating the EHR. Part of that is, of course that it’s much easier to love something you get information out of than something you must put information into.

The challenge faced by the EHR vendors is objectively much more complex than the one faced by the Epocrates folks.  But the point is well-taken, user interface matters, and the cluttered, tiny-font screens which providers must face each day make documenting care a particularly onerous chore.  It seems the vendors are beginning to take user issues seriously, but it’s an embarrassment to the software sector that it takes this kind of publicity to make that happen.  It’s hard to concentrate on being compassionate when you are swearing at the computer!