Practice Situation, Ease of Use, and User Satisfaction
Participants were asked to rate their EHRs in a number of ways. One of them is usefulness by practice situation. Doctors who are part of a hospital or health system network and are using that entity's EHR rate VA-CPRS the highest, as do doctors in independent practices using their own EHR. Those in the latter group rate Amazing Charts, Practice Fusion, and Epic highly as well.
Ease of use, the most important category for many physicians, is measured by several factors: "easy to learn," "ease of data entry," "ease of EHR implementation," "reliability," and "overall ease of use." For many physicians, ease of use determines their overall perception and experience with an EHR, affecting patient interactions and time spent documenting.
Amazing Charts, popular with smaller practices, was rated most highly, with a score of 4.0 for overall ease of use. Practice Fusion and VA-CPRS tied for second (3.9) in this area. But there is still a way to go. Most EHRs measured in the survey were rated below average in ease of use.
"Ease of use is still a significant stumbling block, with physician productivity a continuing problem," Sterling says. "If you cannot get the EHR to support doctors at their speed, then they are not going to consider their EHR any better than average."
How satisfied are respondents with their EHRs? Satisfaction includes various key attributes that are critical to the EHR experience. One of them, value for the money, is related to (among other factors) the complexity of the system compared with what it offers. Some EHRs for large hospital systems contain far more extensive features than do some EHRs for smaller practices and consequently cost much more, particularly in terms of software and installation.
"Sometimes it takes years for older products to update their look and operation to take advantage of new technology," Sterling notes. "It can be difficult to retrofit a new capability into an older piece of software. For example, the way e-prescribing works in older EHRs may not be as cool as newer implementations."
VA-CPRS and Amazing Charts were rated first and second, respectively, in overall satisfaction by respondents. Practice Fusion, which took first place in "value for the money," is billed as a "free" EHR with an "ad-supported model."