By Brita Van Fossen, Editorial Assistant
As the stage 1 meaningful use deadline approaches, the push for electronic health record (EHR) implementation is becoming more pronounced throughout the American health care system. With such a wide array of choices on the market, the burden of narrowing the EHR selection down to one is daunting at best.
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There are critical steps to EHR selection, not to mention questions to pose and EHR features to consider, but the most helpful advice arguably comes from those who actually have experience with a given system and know its capabilities and limitations.
A Family Practice Management survey may serve as a crucial tool to help practices determine the correct system for their particular needs. Rather than name one reigning EHR, the survey instead analyzed the satisfaction of 2,719 respondents with their EHR system, focusing specifically on the 30 systems used by 2,371 (87%) respondents. The 2,719 respondents marks a 550% increase in responses between now and the first publication of the survey six years ago. That total helps provide a broad range of data on of EHR systems and illustrates a sizable increase in use of electronic technology in practices.
Each of the 30 systems was analyzed on 17 different dimensions, ranging from the level of satisfaction with vendor support and training to whether the EHR system is intuitive and easy to use. In the magazine’s July/August issue, participants’ ratings of each EHR system are displayed in color-coded spectrum charts.
Although the authors admit that the ranking system is “crude,” they also state that it offers useful insights. For example, there seems to be a correlation between satisfaction with an EHR systems and practice size, with smaller practices happier than larger ones. An American Academy of Family Physicians article quotes FPM editor-in-chief Robert Edsall’s statement that this phenomenon is related to the fact that small practices have more physician input in the EHR selection process than larger practices, where EHR systems are likely being thrust upon them by a selection committee.
This correlation is one of the major takeaways of the survey — increased participation in the EHR selection process has a noticeable impact in satisfaction. In addition, the survey revealed that only 49% of participants agree that they are “highly satisfied” with their EHR; another 30% reported being dissatisfied.
With only slightly less than half of the participants reporting satisfaction with their EHR and the survey pointing to increased satisfaction with greater input, it stands to reason that significant increases in user satisfaction will only be realized when there is a heightened level of participation in the EHR selection process on the part of the tools’ end users — the physicians and nurses at the front line of delivering patient care.