Recently, I had the opportunity to work in a local doctor’s office. Because I’m a medical student, I was allowed more opportunities and responsibilities than I’ve ever had before. I was able to utilize the office’s electronic medical record (EMR) system when I interviewed patients. I’m not sure what software they were using, but I had mixed feelings about the system.
First of all, I certainly appreciated the usefulness of the software; you can view scanned notes, past records, test results, and medications. Furthermore, you can send prescriptions electronically with a click of a button. On the other hand, I found the GUI to be terrible; the icons, the text and the windows were poorly designed. Navigation of the software was extremely unintuitive to me: icons didn’t seem to match their purpose. It seemed to me that the software was designed solely for utility rather than accessibility. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but I figured that modern graphics wouldn’t be too difficult to implement. Since I was aware that there are multiple EMR software on the market, I was curious about cross-compatibility.
Could doctors using different software communicate easily and effectively with each other? Are notes generated for a patient on one software easily uploaded into another? I decided to ask the physician these questions and received a disheartening answer; according to him, cross-compatibility is a large issue. A message from one software shows up as garbled text in another. I found this to be truly shocking. Communication between different software is relatively easy to implement. We all use different apps to send emails and yet they show up unaltered no matter what app or software you use. The same applies to text messaging. I truly hope that there is an initiative or movement to push for software compatibility—it would certainly boost efficiency and productivity!