Physicians Less Likely to Believe EMRs Improve Health Outcomes

Although physicians are getting better at using electronic medical records, fewer believe the technology has improved health outcomes over the last 2 years, according to a survey of more than 600 US physicians from Accenture.

Although physicians are getting better at using electronic medical records (EMRs), fewer believe the technology has improved health outcomes over the last 2 years, according to a survey of more than 600 US physicians from Accenture.

Overall, Accenture surveyed 2600 physicians in 6 countries: Australia (510), Brazil (504), England (502), Norway (302), Singapore (200), and the United States (601). In the US, health information technology (IT) use has grown by double digits since 2012.

In the US, 79% of respondents said they were more proficient using EMRs than they were 2 years ago, with 30% routinely using digital tools compared with 13% in 2012. However, 70% believes that the use of health IT has decreased the time they spend with patients.

Their opinions on the positive impact of health IT has declined in the past 2 years. Less than half (46%) believe EMRs have improved treatment decisions, down from 62% in 2012; 64% believed EMRs have reduced medical errors, down from 71% in 2012; and 46% believe EMRs have improved health outcomes for patients, down from 58% in 2012.

“Despite the rapid uptake of electronic medical records, the industry is facing the reality that digital records alone are not sufficient to driving better, more-efficient care in the long-term," Kaveh Safavi, MD, JD, who leads Accenture’s global health business, said in a statement. “The findings underscore the importance of adopting both technology and new care processes, as some leading health systems have already done, while ensuring that existing shortcomings in patient care are not further magnified by digitalization.”

Since 2012, US physicians reported an increase in the availability of online prescription refill requests (58% in 2014 vs 43% in 2012), medical record access (55% vs 30%), and telemonitoring to track health (24% vs 8%).

The report found that patients being able to update personal EMRs helps patient engagement (82%), patient satisfaction (81%), understanding of their health condition (72%), patient/physician communication (71%), and accuracy of record (60%).

Online access is not only important for younger patients, Accenture has found in the past. The Two-thirds of Americans age 64 and older think accessing their medical information online is very or somewhat important. Furthermore, 83% of US seniors think they should have full access to their electronic health records, although only 28% actually do.

“When patients have a greater role in the record-keeping process, it can increase their understanding of conditions, improve motivation and serve as a clear differentiator for clinical care provided by physicians,” Dr Safavi said.