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Nearly one-third of practices want to replace their EHRs, study finds


More than 31% of medical practices in a recent survey say they're replacing their old electronic health records systems with new ones, citing dissatisfaction as the most frequent reason behind the switch.


More than 31% of medical practices in a recent survey say they're replacing their old electronic health records (EHRs) systems with new ones, citing dissatisfaction as the most frequent reason behind the switch.

The 31% figure represents a jump of 10 percentage points from a similar survey from 2010, according to Software Advice, a company that aims to match software buyers with the right systems for them.

Admittedly, the sample size from the Software Advice survey is small - just 385 practices in each year. However, its results are somewhat close to what a much larger survey of 17,000 EHR users from Black Book Market Research found earlier this year.

Related: 23% of medical practices considering EHR switch, survey reveals

The Black Book survey showed that 23% of practices were frustrated enough with their EHRs to consider changing vendors. Dissatisfied EHR users reported problems interfacing with other software, overly complex connectivity and networking schemes, and concerns related to integration with mobile devices, according to Black Book.

Those reasons were similar to what physicians cited in the Software Advice survey. Aside from general dissatisfaction, the other most-often cited reasons for wanting a new EHR were desire for a fully integrated system, a current EHR that's "old" or "unsupported," cost implications, and concerns about compliance and meaningful use.

One trend that bears watching (by the health IT industry, at least) is that dissatisfaction with EHR vendors is on the rise, according to Software Advice. Half of the survey's dissatisfied respondents cited forced upgrades and an unwillingness to pay the associated costs. Additionally, many respondents mentioned frustration at being “nickeled and dimed,” or that they had not been made fully aware of what to expect on the final invoice, according to the survey.

Related: Explore fixes to your EHR system before deciding to replace it

So what's the first step for physicians considering an EHR switch? Before making such a drastic move, explore alternatives with your existing system, Robert Rowley, MD, a family physician and health IT consultant, advises.

Make a list of your specific pain points with the system - most involve a loss of productivity - and then address them with your vendor or the consult that recommended or installed your system. Ask about work-arounds that might address the problems. Perhaps some configurable aspect of the EHR can be modified.

"Remember, most EHR vendors and consultants want to keep their customers/clients happy," Rowley says. "If given specific feedback on where a product is lacking, it is in their interest to try to address the problem(s)."


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