Some Personal EHR Stories

I am a patient at two separately owned and operated healthcare provider organizations that are within walking distance of one another. Fortunately, both organizations use the same “core” EHR system.  Unfortunately, the EHRs currently do not talk to one another or even look or act alike.

Because also I am a health information management and health information technology professional, I’ve found several flaws in these providers’ EHR systems. The organizations either do not know how to correctly configure their EHR systems or have failed to do so properly.

Flaw 1: Male with Cancer

I requested the release of my medical record from one of the organizations. The transcribed procedure report header listed my correct name, date of birth, and medical record number. However, the report body included two pages describing me as a male and having cancer. Neither is accurate.

This kind of mistake is common. Either the provider mistakenly dictated on the wrong patient under the correct header information sent by the EHR system, or the transcriptionist mistakenly keyed the wrong patient information under the correct header information.

Flaw 2: Updating Orders

One of my care providers repeatedly ordered the same lab work, even though the lab work had been performed months ago and the results were stored in my EHR. Deleting the order and updating the EHR with the previous lab results required several handwritten notes, photocopies, and telephone calls to the provider.

Flaw 3: Duplicate Tests

EHR systems should be configured to alert providers of all tests performed in the past. Recently, when one organization’s physician ordered a routine TB test, there was nothing in the EHR system to alert the provider that the same test was performed at the organization seven months earlier. Consequently, the test was unnecessarily repeated seven months later, costing an additional $398.