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Survey of Physicians Shows Declining Satisfaction with Electronic Health Records

Written by Kaitlyn Houseman | May 17, 2016

A new report from AmericanEHR Partners and the American Medical Association (AMA) based on a survey of physicians, shows that compared to five years ago, more physicians are reporting being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their EHR system. The survey on Physician Use of EHR Systems 2014 found that close to, or more than half of all respondents, reported a negative impact in response to questions about how their EHR system improved costs, efficiency or productivity.

EHR adoption started with The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, signed into law in 2009. The HITECH Act was created to promote adoption of and meaningful use with health information technology. It also addresses security concerns related to electronic health information and strengthens civil and criminal enforcement of HIPAA rules. 

With 95 percent of all eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals and 54 percent of all office-based physicians demonstrating meaningful use of a certified EHR as of April 2015, it appears that federal incentive programs designed to increase the momentum of EHR adoption are working. In short, the industry is embracing the technology, something that was long overdue. But while adoption is increasing, EHR satisfaction is not.


More Physicians Dissatisfied with Their EHR System

A new report from AmericanEHR Partners and the American Medical Association (AMA) based on a survey of physicians, shows that compared to five years ago, more physicians are reporting being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their EHR system.

  • 42 percent thought their EHR system’s ability to improve efficiency was difficult or very difficult.
  • 72 percent thought their EHR system’s ability to decrease workload was difficult or very difficult.
  • 54 percent found their EHR system increased their total operating costs.
  • 43 percent said they had yet to overcome the productivity challenges related to their EHR system.

“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 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.”

[Also: Switching EHR Vendors? Here are 6 Must-Have EHR Features]

The report found that primary care physicians were more likely than specialists to report satisfaction with various aspects of the EHR system and to indicate a positive impact on practice. The report suggested that the difference could be explained by the longer period of time, on average, that primary care physicians had used their EHR systems compared to specialists. Among survey respondents primary care physicians had used their EHR systems for a year longer than specialists, on average. They found that in most cases, it appeared to take at least three years for respondents to overcome initial challenges and to derive many of the benefits the their EHR system may have to offer.

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

Replacing an Underperforming EHR

If you're considering replacing your EHR, you aren't alone. The 2015 EHR Software BuyerView report revealed that the number of clinicians looking to replace their current EHRs has increased 59 percent since 2014. 

In 2016, more physicians are likely to identify and replace underperforming EHRs in order to achieve better functionality, prepare for value based reimbursement, and of course focus more closely on patient care. If you are considering replacing an underperforming EHR, make sure you keep these 6 things in mind.

[Also: 5 Signs Your've Outgrown Your Legacy EHR]

1) Schedule time to discover new vendors 

  • Create a team that is responsible for researching vendors.
  • Ask providers in the area what systems they are using and what they like/dislike
  • Read online reviews
  • Schedule demonstrations to view the software 
  • Set a time line for EHR research, decision making, and implementation

2) Identify Pros and Cons 

What items are desirable that your current EHR does not have? What do you like about your current EHR?

Have the entire practice keep a post it pad handy at all times leading up to the purchase of a new EHR system.  This way the day-to-day tasks that are not there for front and back office staff and providers can be brought up in the decision making process.  Ask potential vendors to demonstrate how these items can be performed in their software.

3) Don’t forget the technical aspect

A large portion of EHR failures will happen because the practice tries to cut corners with IT resources.

The network and hardware must function with the new software and an experienced IT professional can make sure this is in order.  Including IT resources on the project from the beginning will speed up the implementation process.

4) Prepare for data migration

When considering migrating data from the existing EHR to the new EHR determine what is necessary to be done automatically vs. manually.  Does the price of data migration justify not having to input all of the data into the new EHR?  

Make a list of what needs to be migrated before using the new EHR. Also identify what can be put into the software by practice employees manually.

5) Don’t make the same mistakes

Be sure to ask about hidden fees or fees that might not be included in the quote. You'd be surprised at the number of items not listed in a quote that could appear down the road. Lab Interfaces or Device Integrations are typically a surprise cost further down the road. Avoid any surprises not just for financial reasons but also for the timeliness of the project.

6) Schedule a time with all employees and providers for implementation and training

Be sure everyone is in the office and on board with the switch. It will take some work and time from everyone to make the switch successful. Everyone needs to understand how the new software with change workflow or how to get the information in the system.

For more information about the AmericanEHR report, visit http://bit.ly/PhysicianUseofEHR2014