Electronic Health Records

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What has physicians so dissatisfied with their EHR systems?

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

EHR adoption has grown significantly over the past several years and so too has physician dissatisfaction with this technology, according to a national survey by MPI Group and Medical Economics. In the 2014 EHR survey, nearly three-quarters of 952 respondents (70%) described their EHR investment as not worth the effort, resources, and costs. The subcategory of physicians with the most dissatisfaction comprises specialists, with just 24 percent deeming the experience worthwhile.

Atop of the list of reasons why they dislike their EHR systems, more than two-thirds (67%) of physicians cited system functionality which was followed by cost (48%) and poor customer service (33%). The reputation of EHR vendors, their type of platform, or lack of Stage 2 Meaningful Use certification also figured on this list but at much lower levels — 19 percent, 18 percent, and 16 percent, respectively.

The survey does not delve into what functionalities are lacking, but it does reveal why cost is such a strong factor to physician EHR dissatisfaction. According to the findings, 77 percent of the largest practices have doled out more than $200,000 for EHR implementations. Nearly half of all physicians surveyed (45%) reported having spent more than $100,000 on implementing an EHR system.

And the implementation only represents one portion of the costs associated with EHR adoption. Almost two-thirds of respondents (65%) indicated that their EHR system was responsible financial losses, with 27 percent reporting some losses and 38 percent reporting significant losses.

These losses were consistent across physician specialties although significant losses were more likely reported by practices with ten or more physicians. Whereas close to one-third of solo practitioners (34%) stated experiencing significant losses, a much greater percentage of larger practices (44%) state the same.

In terms of the quality of care made possible through EHR use, physicians by and large observed their EHR systems having a negative impact. Nearly half of respondents (45%) reported that their EHR system led to worse patient care, with the system posing an even greater threat to care coordination for 69 percent of physicians.

It should then come as little of a surprise that most physicians would not purchase their current system again if given the chance. While nearly two-thirds of all physicians said they would not purchase the same system once more, the largest practices were even more adamant that they would not do so —73 percent said no.

Despite low levels of satisfaction with their current EHR systems, physicians are mostly confident in the viability of this technology over the next five years with 62 percent of respondents reporting that they were confident. That still leaves 38 percent with doubts. Along similar lines, 74 percent of physicians believe their EHR vendors would still be in business while 26 percent had their doubts.

 

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