One of the reasons often cited by dentists to delay adopting EDR systems is that they are not very tech savvy, which may be surprising to hear considering that most medical professionals handle sophisticated technology every day. In the health industry, lack of tech savvy doesn’t necessarily equate to being a technophobe.
What most dentists, especially older ones, mean is that they are not as comfortable with computers, typing and using the keyboard or mouse for data entry as they would like to be, especially in a clinical setting. The situation is further exacerbated by the lack of usability and flexibility of many EDR applications in the market today. Some EDRs may have exceptionally steep learning curves, so much so that dentists spend more time entering data into the system than talking to their patient.
Most people expect that the younger generation of health professionals will be more comfortable with EDRs than their older counterparts. However, a recent study by the Alliance for Clinical Education found that only 64% of medical school students are allowed to use EHR systems during their course (As reported by LeadDoc, January 2014). Medical schools and hospitals generally adopt a ‘learn as you go’ approach and expect medical students to to know how to use the various systems without any training. It is no wonder then that many health professionals dislike EHRs and EDRs.
Nevertheless the fact remains that the use of electronic systems is going to increase in the future and dentists need to adapt quickly. Practices should carefully select an EDR based on the usability of the software itself as well as the comfort level of the dentists with computers. There have been quite a few applications launched in the last few years which have focused on simplicity of use and have been designed with the input of practicing dentists.
Some EDRs also allow voice dictation, data entry through mobile devices etc. which makes it easy for users to integrate them into their workflows without much loss of productivity. With such features, dentists no longer have to worry about their typing speed or using the mouse and keyboard. As long as the user can operate a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet, they will be able to use most modern EDRs.
EDR systems are only going to become more user-friendly with time and HIT may soon embrace emerging technologies such as Google glass. With such innovation, using computers in the clinic may soon become second nature for dentists, even for those who do not consider themselves to be tech savvy.