Healthcare News & Insights

Survey: Doctors losing faith in EHRs

Even as more hospitals and physician offices adopt electronic health records (EHRs), doctors are becoming more pessimistic about the impact those and other health IT systems will have on the quality of patient care. 

Implementing EHRs is a significant challenge for doctors, according to a recent survey conducted by health practice reference company The Little Blue Book and Sharecare.

When asked about the big practice management challenges they’re currently facing, 66% of doctors cited integrating an EHR system, making that the third largest challenge listed, behind obtaining reimbursement from insurers (80%) and the administrative burdens of patient approvals (77%).

Doctors are also becoming less confident about EHRs’ ability to improve patient care. While most believe electronic records would improve the quality of care (35%) or have a neutral impact (31%), those numbers are both down, from 39% and 37%, respectively, when compared to a similar survey conducted last year.

In contrast, the number of doctors who think the quality of care will actually deteriorate because of EHRs increased to 34%, from 24%. What’s to blame for that increase? The folks behind the survey guess that it might have to do with the growing pains many offices are experiencing now while implementing EHRs for the first time.

When asked for additional comments about their responses, many of the doctors explained that EHRs have a positive or neutral effect when they’re implemented and used properly, but they can hurt patient care when they’re not. For example, some doctors noted the effect is negative when doctors or nurses spend too much time at a computer and not enough time face-to-face with patients.

One thing to note is that, despite those sentiments, many of the challenges doctors face could be helped out by EHR systems or other health IT. When asked what the biggest clinical challenge they were facing, 81% said it was managing all of the administrative tasks related to patient care. One of the benefits of EHRs is that they make those administrative tasks easier and more efficient for practices.

The bottom line: EHRs can help doctors and hospitals, but to do so, they must be properly used. That means great care must be taken when selecting and installing a system.

One key element organizations should focus on: training for doctors, nurses and staff. If they are going to use the system properly, they must be shown how. To get doctors on board for using the system, organizations can also use training sessions to emphasize the benefits of EHRs.

To learn more, download the survey here.

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Comments

  1. Kraig Goodlund says:

    Reading through the article, it appears to be basing conclusions on results from a survey that doesn’t ask enough of the right questions. They need to do a follow up survey.

    If the EHR application requires more of the doctor’s time, I would expect it is because the old workflow had staff handling processes that the doctors now do. Or the new application is overly complex, or the application setup is not optimal for how they need to use it. Or there needs to be remedial training.

    In theory, an EHR should make the health record for the patient more accurate because of fewer hands between the doctor managing of the patient and how that information gets into the EHR, and because of faster, more complete information for the doctor to manage patient care in real time.

    It would be helpful to look at the actual complaints, focus on whether they are application design, setup issues, or training issues. If it’s more workload for doctors, it would likely be a staffing issue that may require a workflow design change if they don’t want to take up the time of the doctors.

    Based on answers to that, solutions can identify the correct effort needed.

    The EHR process is an evolving concept. I’m sure that when people transitioned from horse & buggy to cars, there was a period of adjustment – and one of fondly looking back the advantages of the former. Look at where cars are now! EHRs will get better, too. Focus on the potential for better patient care. Identify and fix the problems that are in the way of that happening.

  2. Ted the Bear says:

    Poorly conceived and implemented by people who are not working at the ground-level, and thus are far, far, far removed from the moral, ethical, legal, and financial consequences of the patient-physician relationship. Boondoggle for tech companies offering services at very expensive prices. However, much like Microsoft, it crashes and needs constant upgrades (BTW – Paper charts don’t need as many upgrades and don’t cost a ton of money to upgrade), along with even more money needed to develop data bridges. Now that your reimbursement is tied to increased usage of it, guess what? Like a drug addict, you’re hooked!

    At the end of the day, it has not helped my patient take their medication, live a healthier lifestyle, and/or have a better quality of life.

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