Despite EHRs, healthcare still 'buried in paperwork,' says survey

Even as more and more healthcare organizations are implementing EHR systems, many of them are not decreasing their reliance on paper-based processes, according to a new survey from Anoto, which develops digital pen and paper technology.

More than half of the respondents say paper is still a primary source for tracking information within their organizations’ daily activities, the study found, with respondents saying that paper is still too embedded in the culture, that technology adoption is too expensive and that switching to an electronic system requires too much training and disrupts care delivery.

[See also: Paper records are 'incomplete, inaccurate and inaccessible'.]

In addition, survey respondents predicted that the paperwork burden would increase with the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Other key findings from the survey:

  • Sixty-three percent of respondents said they spend anywhere from 25 percent to more than 75 percent of their time at work drafting or processing paperwork.
  • A large majority – nearly 80 percent – are still using paper records, despite either having or currently implementing an EHR system.
  • Seventy-eight percent of respondents believe the PPACA will either increase the amount of paperwork they will have to deal with or it will, at best, stay the same.

Despite the preponderance of paper in healthcare, almost 90 percent of survey respondents with an active electronic health records said EHRs improve patient care.

Anoto officials say interest in digitizing paper-based processes is high. Respondents were asked – on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest – whether they would be interested in using a solution (such as Anoto technology) that would allow them to digitize information instantly while still using the paper forms they have always used. Nearly 50 percent of respondents rated their interest as an eight or higher.

[See also: Paper is the problem.]

“The survey results are clear: healthcare remains a paper-driven industry and will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future,” said Pietro Parravicini, senior vice president area manager Americas for Anoto.