Docs blame EHRs for lost productivity

Also ding them for inappropriate user interfaces, inefficient processes and more

Nearly 60 percent of ambulatory providers surveyed for a new IDC Health Insights report say they're unsatisfied with their electronic health records, citing frustrations with usability and workflow.

IDC's new study, "Business Strategy: The Current State of Ambulatory EHR Buyer Satisfaction," polled 212 ambulatory and hospital-based providers. It found that while the adoption of EHRs is widespread, the experience of most who use them "is one of dissatisfaction."

According to results, 58 percent of ambulatory providers surveyed were dissatisfied, very dissatisfied, or neutral about their experience with ambulatory EHRs.

Issues affecting EHR productivity include poor usability, inappropriate form factors and user interfaces, access to mobile technology, workflow tools and configurations, inadequate training, inadequate staffing and support, inefficient processes and application uptime and availability, according to the report.

"Despite achieving meaningful use, most office-based providers find themselves at lower productivity levels than before the implementation of EHR," said IDC Research Director Judy Hanover Workflow, in a press statement. "Usability, productivity and supplier quality issues continue to drive dissatisfaction and need to be addressed by suppliers and practices."

Additional findings from the IDC report:

  • The top three goals for providers implementing EHR include regulatory compliance (56 percent), improving the quality of care (43 percent) and qualifying for meaningful use incentives (40 percent).
  • The two most frequent reasons for EHR dissatisfaction involved lost productivity – spending more time on documentation (85 percent) and seeing fewer patients (66 percent).
  • Providers who were satisfied with EHRs cited the top reasons were a reduction in the number of lost or missing charts (82 percent), the ability to access medical records and work remotely (75 percent) and incentive payments (56 percent).
  • The top five tasks for which physicians use EHRs include: accessing patient information, documenting care, e-prescribing, viewing labs and diagnostic tests results, and entering orders.

Widespread ambulatory EHR adoption since 2009 has largely been driven by the HITECH Act. As such, IDC found that, first and foremost, the goals for more than half of the providers (56 percent) that implemented EHR in recent years were regulatory compliance and qualifying for meaningful use incentives (40 percent). Also among the top 3 stated objectives for most providers implementing EHRs was the objective of improving the quality of care (43 percent). Other top objectives included improving efficiency and productivity (30 percent), supporting workflow (23 percent) and improving care team communication and collaboration (22 percent).

"Most providers using EHR are less productive than they were using paper in 2009, and the inability to restore productivity with EHR has clearly affected the business outlook for many providers," writes Hanover on her blog.

"EHR is here to stay, and it is important for both providers and vendors to address the issues raised in this study in order to succeed in the coming years with current and replacement EHRs," she adds. "Success and productivity with EHR will become even more important as EHR installations become the building blocks for care management, patient engagement and patient-centered medical home operations under accountable care."

[See also: Docs 'stressed and unhappy' about EHRs]