Electronic Health Records

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Physician EHR Use Benefits Quality Performance, Productivity

"This survey demonstrates that health IT is creating a positive shift within healthcare organizations, one that’s deriving quality care and improved outcomes."

By Sara Heath

Nearly 83 percent of health IT users have seen some kind of quality performance benefit in physician EHR use, according to a recent survey from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

The survey, which questioned advanced EHR users who have been recognized as HIMSS Stage 6 or 7 users or Davies Award winners, sought to see how user experiences line up with the HIMSS STEPS Model. The STEPS Model measures health IT value on categories such as satisfaction, treatment/clinical outcomes, electronic information/data, patient engagement, and population management and savings.

According to the survey, EHR users have seen benefits across all of those categories. However, the most popular category was in treatment/clinical outcomes, stating that EHRs brought benefits to clinical staff performance. Specifically, most respondents stated that the EHR implementation caused clinician efficiency. This is because the EHR reduced the amount of duplicative testing and allowed clinicians to share information with one another.

According to the survey’s executive summary, other factors were positively impacted by EHRs. For example, hospital savings saw improvement with an EHR implementation. A majority of respondents stated that their practice measures the savings an EHR brings, and nearly 80 percent of them have seen positive savings outcomes, especially in coding accuracy, days in accounts receivable, and transcription costs.

Furthermore, respondents reported satisfaction with their EHRs’ abilities to share health information between providers, with nearly half of the respondents stating that their organization has had a positive experience implementing interoperability.

That all said, there were two areas in which respondents hadn’t entirely had positive experiences. For example, when questioned about EHR benefits to prevention and patient education, only 42 percent reported having a current population health management strategy. However, nearly 60 percent of respondents have seen an increase in patient portal use, and about half have seen an increase in patient education materials distribution.

Overall, the benefits of EHRs have reportedly been felt by staff providers, although more strongly by nurses than physicians. In fact, nearly 44 percent of nurses have seen positive impacts from EHRs while only 29 percent of physicians have seen positive impacts.

In addition to measuring the kinds of benefits EHR users have seen, HIMSS took a look at some other outside factors.

For example, the organization found that most respondents saw EHR benefits because hospital executives agreed upon goals for future EHR benefits. Additionally, most EHR users had their hospital executives communicate concrete EHR metrics with them, showing them the specific benefits the technology may have had.

HIMSS executives explained that this survey highlights the headway EHRs have already made in improving the healthcare industry, and shows where health IT developers need to go next in order to continue to benefit users.

"This survey evaluates the progress the healthcare industry has made in deriving value from their health IT investments" said HIMSS vice president Pat Wise. "The findings illustrate that although many challenges still exist, measuring the impact of the EHR on treatment and clinical areas is happening amongst healthcare innovators. This survey demonstrates that health IT is creating a positive shift within healthcare organizations, one that’s deriving quality care and improved outcomes."




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