Is Your Hybrid EHR-Paper Workflow Putting Patients At Risk?

Jennifer Bresnick | EHR Intelligence | June 25, 2013

Even the most die-hard EHR advocate knows that paper isn’t disappearing completely from the office any time soon.  With plenty of providers still entirely entrenched in pen and prescription pad, there will still be referrals, orders, faxes, and copies to deal with for years to come, no matter how high on the health IT ladder you climb.  Inevitably, paper will form part of your workflow, and that’s all right.  The trick is not to let the presence of paper trap you into a hybrid EHR-paper system that puts patient safety at risk by creating a scattered, unstructured record that fails to maximize the potential of your EHR.

The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recently released a report warning that hybrid workflows contribute to medical errors at a significant rate.  Medication administration errors and dangerous drug interactions were rife among providers who were half on paper and half on an EHR, whether by design or because they were in the middle of the transition process.  “Funding gaps, competing priorities, and a lack of industry education have left many facilities in extended or indefinite transitional periods,” the report says. “Even in a nominally all-electronic workflow, hybrid workflows can arise as a workaround if clinicians supplement use of an electronic system with handwritten notes as documentation aids.”