Last week, we wrote about the future of Health IT, providing a
predictions for how doctors' offices will be using medical
technology in 10 years. At the same time, Medscape released its
Report 2014 demonstrating that physicians remain split on the
pitfalls of using electronic health records (EHRs). A total of
18,575 physicians across 25 specialties responded.
According to the report, more physicians are using EHRs now than
in 2012 (83 versus 74 percent, respectively). Of those using EHRs,
opinions vary, but a majority--63 percent--acknowledge that EHRs
have improved documentation, while 39 percent say it has improved
On the flip side, 38 percent said it worsens patient services
and 35 percent said it worsens clinical operations. Of those not
using EHRs, 40 percent said they don't because it interferes with
the doctor-patient relationship, which is unfortunate because
health IT is supposed to make things better for patient care and
communication, not worse.
On the whole, it seems like a pretty mixed bag coming from the
doctors who are actually using these systems every day. For years,
EHRs have been touted as "the next big thing," but doctors' offices
across the nation have struggled with everything from
meaningful use. I can attest from my personal experience that
it seems like my doctor's office has a new EHR every time I come
in, and as frustrating as it is from the patient's perspective to
give all their medical history once again, it must also be
incredibly frustrating for the doctors.
According to the Medscape survey, a whopping 70 percent of
doctors surveyed say that EHRs decrease face-to-face time with
patients, and 57 percent say that use of EHRs decreases their
ability to see more patients. The struggles with implementation of
EHRs are also demonstrated in the fact that only 14 percent of
survey respondents were satisfied with their current EHR (could
that be why they always seem to be changing systems?).
Nonetheless, most (84 percent) of survey respondents said that
they plan to keep their EHR. So it seems that despite challenges to
properly implement and then effectively use EHRs without
compromising doctor-physician communication, most doctors are
sticking with what they have and will continue to make necessary
adjustments to improve how they work with the systems.
I'm sure somewhere down the line, EHRs will be so commonplace
that surveys such as the Medscape survey will be unnecessary, but
until then, there's still a lot of work to be done.