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More Physicians Reporting Dissatisfaction With EHR Systems

Survey results fail to show widespread improvements in costs, efficiency, or productivity

A new report from AmericanEHR Partners and the American Medical Association (AMA), based on a survey of physicians, shows that compared with 5 years ago, more physicians are reporting being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their EHR systems. In the survey, approximately half of all respondents reported a negative impact in response to questions about how their EHR systems improved costs, efficiency, or productivity.

AmericanEHR Partners provides information to support clinicians in the selection and use of EHRs to improve health care delivery. It was founded by the American College of Physicians (ACP) and Cientis Technologies.

In a similar survey conducted by AmericanEHR 5 years ago, most of the respondents said that, overall, they were satisfied or very satisfied with their EHR systems, with 39% being satisfied and 22% being very satisfied. In the new survey, however, most of the respondents indicated that, overall, they were dissatisfied with their EHR systems, with only 22% indicating they were satisfied and 12% indicating they were very satisfied.

Questions regarding the effect of EHR systems on clinical practice found that:

  • 42% thought their EHR systems’ ability to improve efficiency was difficult or very difficult.

  • 72% thought their EHR systems’ ability to decrease workloads was difficult or very difficult.

  • 54% found that their EHR systems increased their total operating costs.

  • 43% said they had yet to overcome productivity challenges related to their EHR systems.

“While EHR systems have the promise of improving patient care and practice efficiency, we are not yet seeing those effects,” said Shari Erickson, MPH, Vice President of the ACP’s Division of Governmental Affairs and Medical Practice. “We need to focus on figuring out how we can help physicians and practices to more effectively implement and use these systems.”

The report found that primary care physicians were more likely than specialists to report satisfaction with various aspects of their EHR systems and to indicate a positive effect on practice. The report suggested that the difference could be explained by the longer period, on average, that primary care physicians had used their EHR systems compared with specialists. Among the survey respondents, primary care physicians had used their EHR systems for a year longer than specialists, on average.

The report also found that, in most cases, it appeared to take at least 3 years for respondents to overcome initial challenges and to derive many of the benefits the their EHR systems may offer.

“Perhaps we are getting over the curve in EHR adoption,” Erickson said. “It may be that as we see more practices that have been using these systems longer, we will see satisfaction begin to rise.”

Source: ACP; August 10, 2015.

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