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Some SD doctors frustrated at move to electronic records

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Doctors aren’t pushing for a return to paper but are frustrated with the transition to electronic health records.

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Dr. Daniel Heinemann, president of the South Dakota State Medical Association, said the busy work required of physicians now adds about an hour to their day. He said patients also have complained about less eye contact during office visits because physicians turn away while typing on a keyboard, the Argus Leader reported Tuesday.

The medical association represents 2,000 physicians and medical students in South Dakota. Heinemann is chief medical officer for Sanford Health.

The California research group Rand Corp. did a study that found electronic conversion a stress factor contributing to professional dissatisfaction among doctors.

The conversion from paper to electronic health or medical records, known as EHR or EMR, has been happening for decades. The effort accelerated in recent years with the emergence of new data systems and the 2009 government stimulus law that included incentives for converting records.

The change might someday create a seamless sharing of information, but the system currently is very disparate, Heinemann said.

“Sanford has an EMR. Avera has an EMR. The VA has an EMR. None of the systems talk to each other. I know for a lot of doctors that is really frustrating. It adds to their work,” he said.

The Rand study said physicians believe in the benefits. But the study found that doctors think electronic systems interfere with face-to-face conversation, require them “to spend too much time on clerical work” and “degrade the accuracy of medical records by encouraging template-generated notes,” according to a summary from the state medical association.