Report: EHRs Fall Short, but So Does Physicians' Use

Kelly Davio

A recent report from Price Waterhouse Cooper’s Health Research Institute (HRI) says that, while electronic health records (EHRs) have become ubiquitous in recent years, the systems still have significant room for improvement.

In interviews with 15 executives from healthcare systems across the US, as well as clinician, consumer, and provider surveys conducted in 2017, HRI found that 96% of nonfederal hospitals and 87% of office-based physicians now use EHRs, and that these entities largely transitioned to EHRs as a way to gain federal incentives for meaningful use. Only an approximate 25% of providers “agree wholeheartedly” that using EHRs has helped their organizations to meet the demands of population health, consumer needs, or competition.

Practices that implemented EHRs as part of an overall business strategy rather than as a way to gain federal monies appear to have fared better with EHRs—92% of strategic implementers agree that their EHR system has met expectations for communicating with patients, while only 76% of meaningful use implementers agreed with the same statement. Yet physicians in practices of all types find that data entry exhaustion, operational inefficiencies, and EHRs’ focus on the revenue cycle are negatively impacting their delivery of care.

“The care processes are too heavily impacted by what we have to do to get the billing right,” Alex Rodriguez, chief information of officer St. Elizabeth Medical Center told HRI.

Limitations to EHRs mean that a number of providers are currently seeking support from non-EHR technology to bridge the gaps in their systems:
While EHRs fall short in the above areas, the report also suggests that physicians, especially those who adopted EHRs for meaningful use incentives, have room for improvement in utilizing their systems; for example, only 41% of meaningful use implementers pointed to revamping the patient experience as a priority, only 29% use EHRs for care coordination, and even fewer (27%) use EHRs for provider-to-provider communication.

However, consumers appear to see more value in EHRs than their physicians; 87% of consumers (compared with 59% of clinicians) surveyed by HRI agreed that EHRs made it easier for them to communicate with their doctors, and 78% agreed that EHRs have improved the patient experience (compared with 58% of clinicians).

Finally, the report offers 4 recommendations for practices that are hoping to get the best from their EHRs:
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