Electronic Health Records (EHRs) : It’s a Love/Hate Relationship

electronic health records (EHRs)There has been a lot of media coverage of Electronic Health Records (EHR) satisfaction, or dissatisfaction, over the past two weeks. New studies from the AMA and Black Book™ show conflicting results on how physicians feel about their current EHR features. We break down the results in this post. First up is a 155-question survey conducted by the American Medical Association and AmericanEHR. The study found that compared to five years ago, more physicians are reporting being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their EHR.

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

This data supports a similar comparative study released by Accenture in mid-April of this year. Results from this survey showed:

  • A 16% decline when respondents were asked if they believe EHRs improve treatment decisions, 62% in 2012 to 46% in 2015
  • An 8% decline when asked if they EHRs reduce medical errors, 72% in 2012 to 64% in 2015
  • An 8% decline when asked if they the tools improved health outcomes, 58% in 2012 to 46% in 2015
  • And 70% believe that EHRs decrease their time with patients

Black Book™ released their annual EHR satisfaction survey results, and it tells a different story. The study identified a shift upward in physician experience across the large practice and clinic sector. This compared to results from six years ago. In 2013, 92% of multispecialty groups using electronic records were "very dissatisfied" with the ability of their systems to improve clinical workload, documentation and user functionalities. In 2015, comparably, 71% of all large practice clinicians stated their optimization expectations of top ranked Black Book EHR vendors were being met or exceeded according to physician and clinician experience. 82% of administrative and support staff declared upgraded operational and financial developments, as well. Ultimately, for your practice, it doesn’t matter what these surveys say. Only you can determine if you are satisfied or not. If you are seeking a new EHR, here are five questions to ask when you are evaluating systems.

  • Is the EHR designed by physicians? This is the closest thing to a guarantee that an EHR is intuitive to a practice’s needs and workflow.
  • Does the EHR vendor have a proven track record? There is something to be said for longevity—especially in a crowded market.
  • Does the EHR allow you to exchange data quickly and easily with other systems? Look for an EHR with proven and successful interfaces with major e-prescribing companies, diagnostic labs, HIEs and other healthcare entities.
  • Does the EHR help you meet government mandates? HIPAA, Meaningful Use, PQRS, ICD-10 – need I say more.
  • Is the EHR customizable? Look for a vendor who can provide as many functionalities and EHR solutions as possible, simplifying what can be a complex process of managing multiple vendors and systems.

Your EHR should work the way your physicians and practice staff work, fine-tuned over many years in response to thoughtful user engagement and feedback. If your EHR doesn’t work that way, it’s time to find one that does—and to put it to work for you. Download our whitepaper “Shopping for a New EHR: How to Pick a Winner” to learn more about choosing your next EHR.

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