Physicians are highly satisfied with EHRs but some still can't afford them

August 17, 2011

Meaningful use incentives are a strong motivator for physicians to implement electronic health records (EHRs), but lack of funds remains the primary reason for not taking the plunge, according to a new survey. Still, practices which had stretched to buy them were highly satisfied with EHRs.

Meaningful use incentives are a strong motivator for physicians to implement electronic health records (EHRs), but lack of funds remains the primary reason for not taking the plunge, according to a new survey, which also showed high satisfaction among practices that had invested in EHRs.

The survey, sponsored by Sage Healthcare Division, found that 64% of physician responders said that meaningful use incentives were a strong driver of their decision, while 32% reported that insufficient capital remained a key challenge for them. The nationwide sample included both physicians who already use EHR and those shopping for the technology.

"Implementation of EHRs in the U.S. continue to grow as an increased number of physicians and staff gain a better understanding of the efficiency and cost-saving benefits of using the technology," said Betty Otter-Nickerson, president of the Sage Healthcare Division. "However, a significant number of office-based practices have yet to implement an EHR solution. Sage's survey was conducted to examine current perceptions and predominant trends that will help us design the best solutions to maximize the benefits of EHRs."

Current EHR users said they measure their EHR success through reporting and tracking healthcare outcomes (64%) and error reduction (62%). Those who have yet to implement the technology had a surprisingly different view, saying they would measure EHR success through increased revenue (74%) followed by reporting and tracking healthcare outcomes (60%).

Overall, physicians who already use EHRs reported high satisfaction:

80% reached their business goals of lower costs and 74% touted improved staff efficiency

More than 70% said a major advantage to an EHR is the increased availability of floor space that was previously occupied by paper records, second only to reduced administrative costs (82%)

More than 55% pointed to error reduction as the top tangible benefit of the technology, followed by the ability to easily share patient information (38%)

52% said their greatest savings came from reduced paper and office expenses

76% said they would invest in EHRs again

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