Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Medscape Survey Sheds Light on Physician Use (and Frustration) with EHRs

Medscape Survey Sheds Light on Physician Use (and Frustration) with EHRs

Managing Editor

Last week, we wrote about the future of Health IT, providing a highlight of predictions for how doctors' offices will be using medical technology in 10 years. At the same time, Medscape released its EHR Report 2014 demonstrating that physicians remain split on the benefits and 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 collections.

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 implementation to 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.

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