When it comes to electronic health records (EHRs), physicians are sharply divided. But they know which EHRs and vendors they favor, and they know whether their practice has improved or incurred more problems.
In a recent survey, Medscape asked more than 21,000 physicians from 25 specialties what they liked and disliked about their EHR systems and how the systems had affected their practices.
Some doctors raved. Some railed. Many expressed billowing frustration. (For full survey results, see the Medscape slideshow EHR Report -- Physicians' Choice: Best-Ranked EHRs)
Which system should you choose? Which is best at what? And how is it likely to affect your life? Read on.
Scoring the EHRs
EHRs have become a fact of life. Eighty-two percent of survey respondents either currently use EHRs or are in the process of implementing them, up from just 38% in Medscape's 2009 EHR survey. Even holdouts are reluctantly buying in: 12% of respondents said they'll purchase or begin using an EHR within the next year or two, and only 6% said they have no plans to buy an EHR.
Although many doctors consider their EHRs to be a positive addition -- nearly two thirds (62%) of EHR users said that they're happy with their systems -- many tempered their praise with descriptors such as "reasonably happy" or "happy for the most part."
More than one third (38%) are dissatisfied. Roughly a third of those unhappy users plan to shop for a new system, while others said that they're stuck with their current system because they've already invested too much. Still others noted that they do not have the authority in their practice to make a switch.
In scoring their EHRs, respondents were asked to rate them from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) on 12 different points: easy to learn, ease of data entry, overall ease of use, ease of implementation, reliability, adequacy of vendor training, vendor continuing customer service, interactivity with other systems, value, physician satisfaction, staff satisfaction, and appearance/usefulness of the end product.
Amazing Charts, Practice Fusion, VA-CPRS, MEDENT, and e-MDs earned the highest overall scores. Collectively, about 8% of users rely on those systems.
Top-ranked Amazing Charts was the most popular system among physicians in practices with 25 or fewer doctors.
VA-CPRS ranked first with physicians in the 26-100 physician category and second among practices with 6-10 and 11-25 physicians.
For large practices with more than 100 physicians, e-MDs came out on top, followed by VA-CPRS and Epic.
The lowest-ranked EHR systems overall were Practice Partner, McKesson, and NextGen.