Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

Understanding How EHR Use, Adoption Impacts Physicians

Many researchers have investigated the impact EHR use and EHR adoption has on physicians and hospitals, showing that the technology still has both pros and cons.

By Sara Heath

- Since the 2009 passage of the HITECH Act and the start of meaningful use, EHR adoption has become widespread throughout the healthcare industry. Despite the near ubiquity of EHR use, provider opinion is split: some think EHRs are critical to quality care, while others could do without the technology.

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As a result, experts have researched the outcomes of EHR adoption and use, uncovering new phenomena in the health IT realm. As of late, much new research has come to the forefront, shedding light not only on how the technology impacts hospitals and staff on the whole, but on how providers perceive the technology now that it has become a mainstay in the industry.

Below is a roundup of some of the latest research regarding EHR use and how it impacts in the industry.

EHR adoption, optimization becomes easier

Adopting a new technology system is a massive undertaking for any healthcare organization. The expansive uses for EHRs make matters even more complicated. However, two new studies indicate that EHR adoption or optimization is becoming easier.

One study published in The BMJ shows that EHR implementation has little negative impact on patient care and clinical quality. In the study, researchers looked at various hospitals 30 days prior to EHR implementation and 30 days following, hypothesizing that the hospitals may struggle in the short term following implementation.

However, the researchers found that they did not. EHR implementation had no effect on adverse hospital events or 30-day mortality rates, and in fact lowered 30-day hospital readmissions from 19.9 percent to 19 percent.

Other research shows that EHR adoption improves nursing staff efficiency. The researchers found that EHR implementation improves four clinical quality measures. However, nursing turnover does increase following implementation, likely due to nurses’ familiarity with the technology.

Both of these studies show that a major EHR overhaul, like a systems replacement or optimization project, is a feasible undertaking for most hospitals. What may have once been a significant burden for a hospital to bear has become something that, while difficult, can ultimately help enhance a healthcare organization.

Provider still struggle with EHR reporting programs

While implementation may be a more feasible undertaking, hospitals and providers still struggle with some of the federal reporting and incentive programs associated with EHRs.

One study found that 78 percent of hospitals are not ready to report their electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) necessary as a part of the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program.

The study shows that 37 percent of hospitals have much more work to do before reporting, while 41 percent have at least some work to do.

Another Deloitte study shows that very few providers are aware of the provisions included in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), despite impending implementation. Half of physicians working in high Medicare hospitals do not know what MACRA is, while 32 percent only recognize the name.

This highlights a significant problem. If providers are unaware of MACRA and its requirements, they are likely ill-prepared to participate in the program aimed at boosting value-based care. As CMS heads closer to program implementation, it is critical they better educate providers to help boost the success of the program.

Providers split on EHR use satisfaction

Beyond the effectiveness of EHRs, provider satisfaction with the technologies is also split. A recent survey conducted by Physicians Practice shows that 20 percent of providers saw issues with EHR optimization. The technology has also brought on a slowdown in productivity, with 46 percent of respondents saying they have seen fewer patients per day following EHR implementation.

The survey also revealed some positive provider opinions, with several reporting positive relationships with their EHR vendors and success with meaningful use and other federal programs.

Overall, this information shows that the healthcare industry still has a complicated relationship with their health IT and EHRs. While the technology shows promise for boosting clinical workflows and quality care, they are still the source of many grievances. Going forward, healthcare professionals are going to need to continue to work on improving their EHR use, making them more seamless tools in healthcare delivery.

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