Sage Healthcare Division, developer of electronic health records (EHR) for medical practices across North America, today released the results of a survey conducted among physicians nationwide in an effort to examine perceptions and determine attitudes toward these systems. The sample included both physicians using EHR and those in the market for this technology.
The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of potential cost savings, benefits of these systems to small and midsized practices and to find any intangibles of using EHRs, such as physicians providing care from multiple locations or helping physicians have more time away from the office because of increased mobility and connectivity.
“Implementation of EHRs in the U.S. continue to grow as an increased number of physicians and staff gain a better understanding of the efficiency and cost-saving benefits of using the technology,” said Betty Otter-Nickerson, president of the Sage Healthcare Division. “However, a significant number of office-based practices have yet to implement an EHR solution. Sage’s survey was conducted to examine current perceptions and predominant trends that will help us design the best solutions to maximize the benefits of EHR.”
The survey findings indicated that meaningful use incentives are still one of the strongest drivers for most physicians (64%) to implement EHR technology, but for 32 percent of those who are in the market for EHR, insufficient capital is still a key challenge to move to EHR.
Interestingly, both users and potential buyers of an EHR solution see the value of using the technology but have substantially different perceptions and expectations on the system. In fact, EHR users said they measure their EHR success through reporting and tracking healthcare outcomes (64%) and error reduction (62%), but those who have yet to purchase EHR responded they would measure EHR success through increased revenue (74%) followed by reporting and tracking healthcare outcomes (60%).
Also, current EHR users are more aware of additional benefits than those who haven’t implemented the technology yet and expected achievements with EHR are stronger for those who have already purchased the solution.
There were a number of other interesting findings in the study, including:
- Seventy-seven percent saw ease of use and quickness as a top characteristic in an EHR solution
- Thirty-nine percent of respondents ranked improved and timely access to accurate patient information as the most important reason to achieve their EHR goals, followed by reduced time spent in information search and management (34%)
- Physicians who have already implemented EHR perceive more value in lower costs and improved staff efficiency than those in the market for an EHR solution (35% versus 25%)
- When surveyed physicians were asked about SaaS as an alternative to an in-office solution, both those with or without EHR (39%) had security and data privacy concerns about the outsourced solution
- Physicians who have already implemented EHR largely reached their business goals of lower costs and improved patient service (80%) and improved staff efficiency (74%)
- Seventy-two percent of those surveyed who have implemented EHR saw the increased availability of floor space that was previously occupied by paper records as a major advantage of EHR, second only to reduced administrative costs (82%)
- Fifty-six percent of those to have already implemented see error reduction as the number one tangible benefit of EHR, followed by ability to share patient information (38%)
- Sixty-eight percent of those who have already implemented have seen mobile access to information as the biggest intangible benefit of EHR (34%)
- Of all the EHR users surveyed, 52 percent said that reduced paper and office expenses saved them the most money
- Seventy-six percent of respondents who have already implemented an EHR solution said they would invest in EHR again
- Of all the non-EHR users, 30 percent would prefer having in-office EHR to an outsourced solution, such as SaaS or off-client software
“Some of our EHR customers have indicated they are spending more time away from the clinic because of the system’s efficiency and accessibility off-site,” said Otter-Nickerson. “This accessibility also saves them time during each patient visit, which translates into more quality time spent with the patient. Another great advantage of EHR is that doctors can look up a patient’s entire history and have a comprehensive view of their health. Consequently, doctors can make more informed decisions, thus improving the quality of care and potentially generating better health outcomes.”
Sage has been providing ambulatory healthcare systems for almost 30 years, serving more than 400,000 healthcare professionals including 80,000 physicians in the United States with EHRs, practice management systems and other services to streamline patient care. Each year, Sage clients serve more the 133 million patients. Since 2011, Sage has helped its physician clients earn more than $1 million in federal Meaningful Use incentives.