Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

Few Physicians Think EHR Technology Improves Outcomes

By Vera Gruessner

The adoption of EHR technology was expected to improve patient health outcomes and quality of care. To determine whether EHR systems have truly helped with these healthcare objectives, who would be the most trustworthy professional to ask? Physicians and other medical professionals are the ones working directly with patients and utilizing the systems to store and access relevant data.

This is why a new survey from Accenture is concerning, as it shows that only some doctors actually believe EHR technology improves health outcomes or reduces medical errors. The survey polled 2,600 physicians around the globe with 600 doctors from the US and found that health IT use has grown significantly since a similar survey was administered in 2012.

The majority of US healthcare providers are proficient at incorporating EHR technology in their practice but few believe that it has actually improved treatment decisions. In 2015, only 46 percent of polled physicians feel that EHR technology improves treatment decisions, which decreased from the 2012 survey by 16 percent.

Additionally, while 58 percent believe EHRs reduce medical errors in 2012, today only 46 percent of respondents feel this to be true. Along with these statistics, 36 percent of respondents feel that EHR technology does not reduce medical errors.

Among US physicians, large numbers utilize electronic prescribing (72 percent) and patient notes (82 percent) as well as integrate clinical results into the EHR system (65 percent). There has also been a significant rise in prescription refill request services, patient EHR access capabilities, and remote monitoring for tracking patients’ wellness.

From the 2012 survey to today, prescription refill request services rose by 15 percent, patient access to their medical information rose by 25 percent, and remote monitoring rose by 16 percent. Also, 46 percent of respondents enabled their patients to book appointments online and 14 percent offer videoconferencing consultations. It is likely that patient engagement objectives within meaningful use requirements incentivized healthcare providers to begin offering these services.

“Despite the rapid uptake of electronic medical records, the industry is facing the reality that digital records alone are not sufficient to driving better, more-efficient care in the long-term,” Kaveh Safavi, M.D., J.D., who leads Accenture’s global health business said in the press release.

“The findings underscore the importance of adopting both technology and new care processes, as some leading health systems have already done, while ensuring that existing shortcomings in patient care are not further magnified by digitalization,” Safavi continued. “The US healthcare market has made remarkable progress in EMR adoption, and we believe that as the technology evolves, so too will the benefits to physicians and patient care.”

While many physicians felt that adoption of EHR technology did not boost health outcomes, many do see a benefit to greater patient engagement. For example, 81 percent of polled physicians saw improved patient satisfaction when allowing patients to update their own medical records while 71 percent saw it improve patient-physician communication.

“The industry needs to adapt to a new generation of patients who are taking proactive roles in their healthcare and expect to have real-time data at their fingertips,” Safavi stated. “When patients have a greater role in the record-keeping process, it can increase their understanding of conditions, improve motivation and serve as a clear differentiator for clinical care provided by physicians.”

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