Nearly half of physicians believe EHRs are making patient care worse, according to newly released data from marketing and research firm MPI Group and Medical Economics. The research reveals despite Meaningful Use incentives, physicians say its not nearly enough to cover the unanticipated costs associated with the need to increase staff, coupled with a loss in physician productivity that directly impact patient care.
The Medical Economics survey was conducted from November to December 2013 with responses from nearly 1,000 physicians administered by the research firm MPI Group. The survey results were corroborated by the findings of a January 2013 RAND Corp. study, detailed in Health Affairs, The New York Times, USA Today, and other national media organizations, criticizing the usability and interconnectedness of current EHR systems.
According to one respondent, “We used to see 32 patients a day with one tech, and now we struggle to see 24 patients a day with four techs. And we provide worse care.”
Findings show nearly two-thirds of doctors would not purchase their current EHR system again because of poor functionality and high costs. In fact, about 77% of the largest practices spent nearly $200,000 on their systems.
HIT expert, Brian Ahier shared his insights on the results in a recent blog post stating, “There is no doubt in my mind that the smart use of health IT will improve care and lower costs, and I am not all surprised at some of the pain points that surface in this survey. Important things that are worth doing are rarely easy to accomplish. Our entire health system is undergoing a radical transformation, and the IT infrastructure to support this is barely in place. Physician satisfaction will be a key linchpin in the success of this transformation, and my hope is that we can truly look out for the little guy and avoid the creation of a healthcare digital divide between large health systems and physicians practices, especially those practicing in rural and underserved communities.”
Other key findings from the national survey include:
- 73% of the largest practices would not purchase their current EHR system. The data show that 66% of internal medicine specialists would not purchase their current system. About 60% of respondents in family medicine would also make another EHR choice.
- 67% of physicians dislike the functionality of their EHR systems.
- Nearly half of physicians believe the cost of these systems is too high.
- 45% of respondents say patient care is worse since implementing an EHR. Nearly 23% of internists say patient care is significantly worse.
- 65% of respondents say their EHR systems result in financial losses for the practice. About 43% of internists and other specialists/subspecialists outside of primary care characterized the losses as significant.
- About 69% of respondents said that coordination of care with hospitals has not improved.
- Nearly 38% of respondents doubt their system will be viable in five years.
- 74% of respondents believe their vendors will be in business over the next 5 years.
The Medical Economics survey was administered by the research firm MPI Group. Physicians were invited to respond to an online questionnaire during November and December 2013. There were 967 total respondents. The margin of error is approximately +/- 3.2% at a confidence level of 95%. Thirty-two percent of respondents worked in family medicine, 33% were in a specialty/subspecialty outside of primary care, 16% were in internal medicine, and 19% other.
In terms of practice size:
- 32% of the respondents were in solo practices,
- 35% were in 2-5 physician practices, 13% were in 6-10 physician practices,
- 20% were in practices with 10 or more physicians.
About 90% of the respondents were physicians, 6% were office managers authorized to answer for the physician, 2% were nurse practitioners or nurses, and 2% were other.
Featured image credit: Medical Economics Slideshow