Electronic health records are a growing trend in many practices for medical billing services, especially with ICD-10 implementation on the calendar for next year and meaningful use incentive payments offering an added financial push for EHRs.

However, the general consensus among many physicians is that EHRs are still largely unreliable and offer poor usability. Not only is this a frustrating occupational framework for doctors, but it also has a negative impact on patient care.

"Physician experiences documented by the AMA and RAND demonstrate that most electronic health record systems fail to support efficient and effective clinical work," American Medical Association president-elect Dr. Steven J. Stack said in a release. "This has resulted in physicians feeling increasingly demoralized by technology that interferes with their ability to provide first-rate medical care to their patients."

The call for optimally designed EHR systems
Study findings from the AMA and RAND discovered that doctors did not want to return to paper record keeping for their medical coding and billing, but rather wanted to make EHRs more operable and user-friendly.

To capitalize on the potential for this type of technology, the AMA recently laid out a framework for the policy surrounding EHRs. Medical experts believe that this type of platform can improve productivity for doctors and staff, reduce burdensome administrative costs and, most importantly, allow physicians to deliver better quality care.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the proposed AMA framework:

  • Enhance physicians' ability to provide high-quality patient care: Doctors should not have to encounter obstacles with EHRs that keep them from the patients.
  • Support team-based care: Many members of a medical team should be able to allocate and delegate work within the practice.
  • Promote care coordination: This can include tracking referrals and consultations so that doctors can better understand a patient's progress.
  • Offer product modularity and configurability: Individual practice requirements are going to happen, which means that program interfaces need to become modular and more flexible.
  • Reduce cognitive workload: There is a lot to process when dealing with physician billing services, so there isn't room for added or unnecessary information. EHRs in the future should function with real-time data so that decision making isn't impeded.
  • Promote data liquidity: Interoperability among health care providers is one of the biggest issues currently facing the state of EHRs in the health care market.
  • Facilitate mobile and patient engagement: Most people get their information with mobile technology these days, so it makes sense that patient health information should follow this model.
  • Expedite user input into product design and post-implementation feedback: Doctors should be able to let EHR companies know if their technology is actually a beneficial source for practices.