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EHR Vendors Still Seeing Low Physician Satisfaction Scores

The Peer60 report shows that most providers would not recommend their EHR vendors to a colleague, highlighting low physician satisfaction scores.

By Sara Heath

Poor usability and lack of desired functionality are causing most physicians to be dissatisfied with their EHR technology, finds a new survey by Peer 60. However, EHR vendors can improve upon this by taking notice of physician satisfaction feedback.

The Physician’s Take on EHRs 2016 report comprises a survey of 1,053 physicians about their EHR satisfaction using the Net Promoter Score, which takes the percent of physicians promoting the technology and the percent detracting the technology and gives it one holistic satisfaction score.

When polling ambulatory physicians, Peer60 asked about Allscripts, athenahealth, Cerner, e-MDs, eClinicalWorks, Epic Systems, Greenway, NextGen, and Practice Fusion, although the agency did not reveal which vendor received which score.

Overall, a majority of users gave their EHR vendors detractor scores. For one vendor, as many as 82 percent of users reported detractor scores. The highest promoter score was 40 percent.

In all, the NPS for ambulatory EHRs were -45 percent, -51 percent, -68 percent, -48 percent, -24 percent, -73 percent, -42 percent, -59 percent, and five percent. These figures show that a majority of physician EHR users have an extremely negative view of their technologies.

For acute care EHRs, Peer60 polled users about Allscripts, Cerner, Epic Systems, and VistA. The highest detractor score was 70 percent, while the highest promoter score was 42 percent. In total, these EHR vendors received NPS of -65 percent, -64 percent, -38 percent, and 0 percent.

According to the researchers, these low satisfaction rates are likely due to growing physician needs. As providers feel the push toward value-based reimbursement and care models, they need better functionality from their EHRs that will support their evolving clinical workflows.

Thirty percent of providers said they need their EHRs to display patient satisfaction data and 15 percent said they needed a patient portal alongside their EHR. Twenty-two percent said they need the technology to support their alternative payment models, while 25 percent specifically said the EHR should support accountable care.

Only six percent of respondents said they don’t need any added functionality.

Although physicians have low opinions of their EHR vendors, and have reported several desired capabilities, they don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, the researchers said. Very few survey respondents reported plans to switch their EHRs for better functionality.

Nine percent of acute care practices are looking to replace their EHRs, as are 11 percent of ambulatory practice physicians. However, Peer60 expects these figures to grow.

“If things stay as they are, physician dissatisfaction will metastasize to encompass the majority of the organization and replacement rates will almost certainly increase in coming years,” the researchers said. “We’ve said it before—physicians and other caregivers are the sleeping giants of healthcare.”

In order to survive in the EHR industry, vendors will need to ensure they put provider and patient needs and preferences first, the researchers asserted.

“For years, caregivers’ satisfaction with clinical documentation systems has been regarded as second class perspective,” they wrote in the survey report. “While the level of importance placed on improvements to EHR systems should be #1 patients, #2 caregivers, and #3 IT leadership, it feels as though caregivers and patients take a backseat to meeting the requirements of other stakeholders.”

Taking this approach would serve EHR vendors well with first-time EHR adopters, too. After all, 34 percent of ambulatory physicians who do not currently have an EHR plan to get on in the near future. Although this is not the majority, Peer60 said, it is a promising amount.

Overall, the EHR vendor that can tap into physician needs and begin to improve on physician satisfaction will end up having significant market influence, Peer60 concluded.

“The EHR supplier that cracks the code of frontline user satisfaction (which doesn’t exist anywhere today) will have a competitive advantage unparalleled in this segment of healthcare,” Peer60 said.

“Imagine a supplier that had an army of caregivers behind it, spreading the sweet, sweet message of real usability? The bubble-up effect would be impossible to ignore.”

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