EHR survey shows concerns, room for growth

Last month, the team from Quest Diagnostics commissioned the Glengariff Group, Inc. to conduct a 600 sample size survey [1] of randomly selected physician offices across the U.S. Among many things, the team wanted to learn about physician office concerns surrounding electronic health records (EHR), their current processes and plans for the future. While we’d heard many of the concerns before, there were a few surprises.

EHR adoption

Almost 50% of the offices surveyed reported not having an EHR. Of those 50%, a majority did not have any plans to adopt one. When asked why, most said their practice was either too small or too old fashioned. Other reasons included that their doctor would be retiring soon, the system was too expensive or even that some doctors were against using an EHR.

About a quarter of the offices surveyed plan to adopt an EHR in the next 12 months. Their biggest concerns about the transition included:

  • Ease of technology use and staff training
  • Decreased office productivity
  • Privacy and confidentiality concerns
  • Cost of the system

Surprisingly, most respondents said that the overall price tag for an EHR was not their biggest financial concern. When asked what they were most worried about, respondents replied that software and subscription costs, as well as upgrading computer systems and technology were tied as the biggest cost concerns.

Current EHR users

For the more than 50% of offices who currently use an EHR, there is a tremendous range of systems being used. Based on the survey, only 23 different electronic medical record and electronic health record systems were used by more than one percent of respondents with an EHR. In total, respondents named more than one hundred different EMR/EHR systems.

When asked which issues they confronted during the transition period, respondents named many of the same concerns as physicians preparing for an upcoming switch to EHR:

  • Transitioning records from paper to electronic
  • Staff training
  • Loss of productivity
  • Startup and ongoing costs
  • Hardware limitations
  • Access to quality and timely support

When asked to name the three most useful features of their EHR system, more than 58% named the electronic submission of prescriptions to a pharmacy. Also included were:

  • Accessing records from anywhere
  • Ordering lab tests and getting results electronically
  • Easy identification of patients that need follow-up care or treatment changes
  • Clinical messaging with other physicians

The survey included much more information than we could fit in one article, so look for a follow-up on the our blog very soon.

[1] Glengariff Group, Inc. “Care360 Survey.” Survey. 23 January 2012

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