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Surveys show doctors remain divided over EHR benefits

At HIMSS13 earlier this month, Will Underwood and Alan Brookstone, M.D., presented survey data collected by American EHR Partners indicating that physician satisfaction with available EHR systems is lower than previously thought. In that survey, doctors said systems fail to deliver care quality improvements, make them less efficient and lack the functionality clinicians need.

A new physician survey from Deloitte paints a very different picture. According to the report, 60% of doctors are satisfied with their current EHR systems. The majority of respondents said they experience faster and more accurate billing, save time and are better able to communicate with colleagues to coordinate care. More than 70% said they believe the vast majority of providers will be using EHRs within one to three years.

To be fair, the American EHR Partners survey was mainly concerned with tracking changes in perceptions among physicians over time, while the Deloitte survey simply offered a snapshot in time.

But taken together the two surveys present a stark contrast. On one hand, physicians appear to be souring on health IT and its supposed benefits; on the other, doctors are relatively satisfied with available systems and see a growing role for EHRs in the delivery of care.

It’s a perception gap that may not be bridged for some time. It will be interesting to see these kinds of survey results five years from now, after the majority of providers have implemented systems and had a chance to adjust to workflow changes. So much is in flux right now and physicians – judging from these and other surveys – seem to be having dramatically different user experiences at this point.

This doesn’t mean that efforts to gauge physician satisfaction with EHRs are not worthwhile. These types of surveys can help federal policymakers understand what’s working and what’s not, and adjust accordingly. Still, it’s hard to find any kind of definitive truth in any one particular survey.

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