Are physicians still dissatisfied with EHRs? Depends on who you ask

Are physicians still dissatisfied with EHRs? Depends on who you ask

When electronic health records were first introduced, many doctors reported feeling dissatisfied with the systems, many of which were challenging to integrate into preexisting practices. Because of this, government leaders and EHR vendors worked diligently to ameliorate the programs and the processes in which they are installed.

Still, many surveys highlighting the negative aspects of EHR use continue to be released, citing unhappy physicians as their sources of information. Should EHR advocates be concerned? According to industry leaders, this is a loaded question, the answers to which have become too generalized.

Breaking down the surveys
Simply stating that physicians are dissatisfied with EHRs is too broad of a statement to make, reported Medscape Medical News. The source explained that different types of practices have varying rates of satisfaction. A Black Book survey recently discovered some positive statistics concerning the programs.

For example, doctors working in large group practices reported high rates of success with the systems. Over two-thirds of professionals practicing in these settings reported having satisfactory EHR experiences during the second quarter of 2015. These respondents also indicated EHRs have increased their documentation techniques and overall productivity. Solo and small physician practices reported similar results. In fact, over 80 percent of small practices using EHRs reported being satisfied with their digital systems this year.

In spite of these positive statistics, a recent survey released by the American Medical Association seems to argue the opposite is true. The AMA report stated that 43 percent of doctors believed their EHRs hadn’t helped their productivity rates. Over half of respondents believed EHRs were increasing their operating costs, while 72 percent said the systems were making it difficult for them to decrease their workloads.

Different methods yield a spectrum of results 
Medscape explained that the AMA survey, whose high rates of dissatisfaction stand in stark contrast to Black Book’s positive figures, isn’t an accurate representation of how most doctors feel. This is because the association polled only small family practices and included the opinions of medical assistants and other staff members in its results.

The AMA’s report, which took into account the statements of 940 respondents, is also not as current as the Black Book survey. Although it was released recently, its data is about one year old, reported Medscape. Black Book, which surveys over 27,000 doctors, updates its information every quarter, therefore offering more accurate data.