EHRs: Which Ones Doctors Like and How Their Lives Changed

Shelly Reese


August 23, 2012

In This Article

Are You Satisfied With Your Vendor?

Productivity and patient relations aren't the only challenges associated with EHR use. Help and support from vendors is vital. Less than one quarter (21%) of users were either very unsatisfied or unsatisfied with their vendors; 35% were neutral, and 45% felt either satisfied or very satisfied with their vendor.

The vendor with the highest percentage of "very satisfied" scores was Epic, with 29% of users saying that they were very satisfied. The second highest percentage was achieved by VA-CPRS (6%).

Many physicians complained that their EHRs simply don't work well for their particular specialties or their vendors don't respond quickly. Others described the frustration of trying to bridge the IT-physician divide. As one physician said about a vendor, "They have tried to address issues, so that's good, but I swear I think sometimes they implement some changes without even trying them out first."

More or Less Testing With an EHR?

Controversy remains over whether using an EHR will lead to more or less testing. EHRs have been cited as one element to help contain skyrocketing healthcare costs. Indeed, while EHRs have been touted for their potential to eliminate unnecessary tests and enhance care, about 17% of physicians said that their EHR has affected the number of tests they order. Of those, there is a nearly even split between those ordering more tests and those ordering fewer.

What About Meaningful Use and Incentives?

Provisions of the Affordable Care Act enable physicians to earn financial incentives if they can demonstrate that they are using their systems to enhance patient care in a measurable, meaningful way. Three quarters (75%) of respondents have already attested to "meaningful use" or intend to do so within a year. Despite that intent, about 48% of respondents think it would be difficult or very difficult to meet the 15 core meaningful-use parameters established by the government.

EHRs are supposed to be about better care coordination, waste reduction, and greater efficiency, but the brass ring for many users appears to be financial. The vast majority (83%) intend to apply for incentives under the Medicare & Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentive Programs.

For all their disagreement, physicians appear to agree on one point: Warts and all, EHRs are inevitable and, given time, will improve.

"I am frustrated with the system," acknowledged one family practice physician. "Yet I know it is the right thing to get started on."

His advice to others?

"Just get started. You will not be satisfied with even the best system, but get going. It is the right direction and learning will come both collectively and individually as we get providers who are comfortable with computers to make dramatic updates to the practice."