- EHR use is much lower among older and independently practicing physicians, according to a new survey by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, with 30% fewer independent physicians using a meaningful use-capable EHR than their larger practice peers. Only half of physicians over the age of 60 use a full EHR, compared to approximately 70% of younger practitioners. With only 30% of solo practitioners using an EHR, and 81% believing that the promise of reduced costs after adoption is false, the EHR Incentive Program has some work to do among the smallest practices to convince them that EHRs are truly in their best interest.
It may be little surprise that EHR adoption is higher among younger age brackets, but coupled with recent research that shows older physicians would rather retire than go through the bother and expense of an implementation – and the willingness of a quarter of physicians who might stop seeing Medicare and Medicaid patients to avoid the paperwork – it calls into question the effectiveness of the upcoming payment penalties associated with meaningful use.
According to the survey, 71% of solo physicians have no intention of implementing an EHR at the moment. Already unable to afford the initial outlay costs, this leaves the most vulnerable segment of providers open to being hit hard by the 2015 payment adjustments. Sixty-seven percent of physicians who do use an EHR say that the software interrupts their face-to-face patient interactions during an exam, something that solo practitioners and their patients tend to value highly.
Among physicians whose practices do have an EHR that meets meaningful use guidelines, overall satisfaction rated a middling 63%. Faster billing, e-prescribing, and improved communication and care coordination were among the top benefits of using the system, with physicians involved in accountable care organizations significantly more likely to believe that communication and coordination were important highlights of EHR use.
“Skeptical physicians are likely to be more readily influenced by peers with credible firsthand clinical experience using HIT,” the report says, suggesting that providers talk to their neighbors about their trials and successes during adoption to gauge their own risks and rewards. “Health IT underpins the future health care system and is a required tool for physicians. While apprehension may be understandable, inaction is not an option.”