Survey: Fewer U.S. Physicians Now Believe EHRs Improve Patient Care

April 14, 2015 in News

Most U.S. physicians believe they have become more proficient at using electronic health records than they were in 2012, but fewer believe that EHRs lead to improvements in patient care, according to a survey released Monday by Accenture, Healthcare IT News reports (Sullivan, Healthcare IT News, 4/13).

Details of Survey

The most recent survey included responses from 601 U.S. physicians and was conducted between December 2014 and January 2015. Researchers compared findings with those from a similar Accenture survey conducted in 2012 (Accenture release, 4/13).

Survey Findings

The survey found that 79% of respondents said they were more proficient at using EHRs compared with two years ago.

In addition, the percentage of physicians who said they routinely used health IT tools — such as secure e-mail — to communicate with their patients increased from 13% in 2012 to 30% in the most recent survey.

Further, researchers found:

  • 82% of physicians said they input patient notes electronically;
  • 72% of physicians said they electronically prescribe medications;
  • 65% of physicians said they get clinical results directly into patients’ EHRs;
  • 63% of physicians said they employ electronic administration tools; and
  • 62% of physicians said they submit electronic order requests to laboratories (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 4/13).

In addition, about 82% of respondents said that allowing patients to update their EHRs leads to increased patient engagement (Accenture release, 4/13).

However, only 46% of respondents said that EHRs improved treatment decisions, compared with 62% of 2012 respondents. The survey also found that:

  • 64% of respondents said that EHRs decreased medical errors, compared with 72% of 2012 respondents;
  • 46% of respondents said that EHRs improved patient outcomes, compared with 58% in 2012.

Respondents also reported other challenges. For example:

  • 76% said that currently available interoperability tools limited their ability to improve quality of care;
  • 70% said that health IT tools decreased the time they spent with patients;
  • 58% said that their EHR systems were difficult to use, even as 90% said that easy-to-use systems and better functionality was key to improving quality of care (Health Data Management, 4/13).

Comments

Kaveh Safavi, director of Accenture’s global health business, said that the findings “are not a criticism of the EHR,” but rather represent “a legitimate recognition that improving patient care is about more than just technology” and that “[t]he kind of technologies that are going to be useful are bigger than [EHRs]” (Healthcare IT News, 4/13).

He added, “The findings underscore the importance of adopting both technology and new care processes, as some leading health systems have already done, while ensuring that existing shortcomings in patient care are not further magnified by digitalization” (Health Data Management, 4/13).

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