Sticking with Paper

A small survey involving more than 100 clinicians, health care administrative staff and IT staff found that even if health care organizations have successfully implemented an electronic health record system, they’re not necessarily going paperless yet. Eighty percent of survey respondents said they still use handwritten records. At the same time, 74% of those surveyed said their organizations already have an EHR system in place.

The survey comes from Anoto, a creator of pen and paper technology that converts handwritten text into digital data.

“We expected there to be a lot of paper usage in a facility that has an EHR system but we didn’t expect it to be necessarily this high,” Vice President of Global Marketing for Anoto Ginny Carpenter said.

“Even if they do have a sophisticated EHR in place or even a basic EHR in place, there are clearly areas in the practice where paper is still used to collect information, and they cannot seem to get away from it.”

Survey respondents said that the top reasons they haven’t abandoned paperwork completely is that it’s too embedded in their culture, adoption of new technology is expensive and they think electronic systems training would disrupt their care delivery.

Their reasons aren’t surprising or at all unreasonable. That’s why, in order to try to help health care workers sidestep the culture shock of going digital, some health IT companies are trying a different approach — they’re actually preserving the art of filling out paperwork.

Shareable Ink, creator of a pen and paper EHR described here last month, is one example of a company using Anoto’s technology.  Shareable Ink CEO Stephen Hau said he knew that any system he designed that forced doctors to change their behavior was less likely to be adopted.

Other companies trying the pen and paper approach to going digital include Allscripts, Cerner, Epic and McKesson.