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Aug 15 2011   11:46AM GMT

Value perceptions of EHRs: Users vs. non-users



Posted by: Jenny Laurello
EHR, EHR Adoption, EHR functionality, Physician adoption, Sage Healthcare

By Tony Ryzinski, SVP of Marketing, Sage Healthcare Division

The adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) in the U.S. continues to grow as more physicians and medical staff learn about the efficiency and cost-saving benefits of using the technology, which of course includes the meaningful use  financial incentives. Nonetheless, a significant number of office-based practices seem reticent to implement an EHR solution. Aware of these trends, Sage Healthcare, one of Sage North America’s business units and a leading health care IT developer, surveyed both EHR users and practices in the market for EHR technology in an effort to examine perceptions and determine attitudes toward the system. The purpose of the survey was to understand the potential tangible benefits of the technology for small to midsized medical practices, as well as any intangibles, such as the ability to provide care from multiple locations or have more time away from the practice because of increased mobility and connectivity.

The study revealed that meaningful use is still one of the strongest appeals to implement EHR technology for the majority of surveyed physicians (64%). However, 32% of those in the market for an EHR solution still consider insufficient capital to be a key obstacle in moving to an EHR system..

Study findings showed that both users and potential buyers of an EHR solution see the value of using the technology. 77% of participating physicians saw ease of use and quickness as a top characteristic of EHR systems. 39% saw improvement in timely access to accurate patient information and 34% saw reduced time spent in information search and management. Collectively, these ranked as the most important reasons to achieve their EHR goals.

However, the survey indicated that users and potential buyers have substantially different perceptions and expectations on the value of adopting EHR technology.  In fact, EHR users perceived more value in lowering their overall costs and improving staff efficiency than those in the market for an EHR solution (35% versus 25%).

When asked about how they evaluate their EHR success, EHR users said they measure it through the quality of reporting and tracking healthcare outcomes (64%) and error reduction (62%), while non-users responded they would measure EHR success through increased revenue as a result of better billing and potential bonuses (74%) followed by the quality of reporting and tracking health care outcomes (60%).

Survey results also reflected that EHR users are more aware of the tangible benefits that come with implementation.  Physicians who had previously adopted an EHR system largely reached their business goals of lower costs and improved patient service (80%) and staff efficiency (74%). Moreover, 56 % saw error reduction as the top tangible benefit of an EHR system, followed by the ability to share patient information (38%). 72% saw the increased availability of floor space that was previously occupied by paper records as a major advantage of EHR technology, second only to reduced administrative costs (82%).

The study also showed that doctors who have already implemented an EHR system are more likely to realize the intangible advantages.  68% of those surveyed said that mobile access is the biggest intangible advantage. In fact, this connectivity and accessibility allows doctors to spend more time away from their practice while still being able to provide quality care remotely.

Overall, physicians who are using electronically-stored medical records are realizing that EHR systems not only saves them money and allows them to work more efficiently than using paper records, but that the efficiency and cost savings also result in the ability to provide more focused and individualized care to each patient with the potential to generate better outcomes. This improved care transcends the medical practice and reaches patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week via a patient portal, allowing them to be more involved in their health care.

We as an industry have the responsibility to reassure reluctant physicians and help them overcome their fears to transition to EHR systems so they and their patients can enjoy the benefits. Only then will we be able to witness the health care revolution that is brewing and shifting the focus of information gathering from the provider to the patient and from each individual practice to a national, more connected health care community.

For more information on Tony and the Sage Healthcare management team, please visit www.sagehealth.com.

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