Multiple motivations are driving EHR adoption in the healthcare industry from the EHR Incentive Programs to the promise of increased healthcare efficiency. Yet in a recent survey by AmericanEHR Partners and the American Medical Association (AMA), researchers found that physician satisfaction is on the decline.
The report finds that in 2010 a total of 61 percent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with their EHR systems. In 2014, after the total number of EHR users has increased, a mere 34 percent of respondents are satisfied.
Additionally, nearly half of respondents reported that EHRs actually decreased efficiency, with 42 percent saying EHR technology made it difficult to improve efficiency, 72 percent stating it was difficult for EHRs to decrease physician workloads, 54 percent saying EHRs increased total operating costs, and 43 percent saying their practices have not yet overcome these challenges.
The report notes that other findings in the survey heavily depended upon whether respondents were satisfied or dissatisfied with their EHR system. This means that there was polarized variation in responses depending upon how respondents felt about their EHR systems. Naturally, respondents who were satisfied responded positively to the survey questions, while those who were dissatisfied did not.
For example, when responding to questions regarding staff time spent processing and refilling prescriptions, 42 percent of all respondents said they were satisfied with their EHR. However, of those who were dissatisfied with their overall EHR use, only 25 percent were satisfied in the processing and refilling prescriptions category. Of those who were satisfied with their overall EHR use, nearly 69 percent were satisfied with the process and refilling prescriptions category.
However, there were some questions all respondents were generally able to agree upon. Merely nine percent of respondents — or 19 percent of those who were satisfied with their EHR — reported that adopting an EHR system decreased their practices’ overall costs. Likewise, only 13 percent of respondents — or 21 percent of those pleased with their EHRs — reported that their EHR technology made a positive impact on a number of their employees.
The report also indicates that primary care physicians tend to be more satisfied with EHR systems than specialists. This is because primary care physicians on average have worked with EHR systems for longer than specialists have, and therefore have figured out the best and most efficient ways to use them. The report also indicated that it took an average of three years for physicians to get used to working with an EHR and to resolve the initial challenges the systems presented.
Shari Erickson, MPH, Vice President of the American College of Physicians Division of Governmental Affairs and Medical Practice, contends that as EHRs continue to be integrated into physician practice, satisfaction ratings will increase.
“Perhaps we are getting over the curve in EHR adoption,” she said. “It may be that as we see more practices that have been using these systems longer we will see satisfaction begin to rise.”