Docs may be using IT, but they don't love it

By Molly Merrill
10:52 AM
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A recent survey finds that although more physician leaders are using healthcare information technology, they still find it clunky and unresponsive to their needs.

The survey, by the American College of Physician Executives, polled 1,000 ACPE members and provides new findings from a similar study that ACPE conducted in 2004.

The findings include:

• More than 64 percent of respondents said they use electronic medical records, up from 33 percent in 2004.

• About 44 percent said their organization uses computerized order entry, while only about 33 percent used CPOE five years ago.

• More than 38 percent said they use pharmaceutical bar coding, up from 20 percent in 2004.

Though the increase in technology has risen since the 2004 survey, the new survey revealed that physicians' attitudes have not improved.

One physician said adopting electronic medical records has been "the worst aspect of my 25 years in medicine. It has ruined doctor productivity, produced lower quality care and encouraged notes that are false to the point of fraud."

Respondents complained the systems are still too clunky, too hard to use and too poorly developed.

One respondent likened implementing a computer system to ordering a sleek Corvette and being delivered a box filled with Corvette parts.

The survey revealed that the biggest source of frustration is a lack of input from physicians when designing and implementing healthcare information technology systems. Many said involving clinicians at the planning stages would pre-empt many of the problems that crop up later.

"There seems to be too little physician involvement in planning. There is no well-thought-out plan of how technology can be utilized to optimize workflow or improve efficiency. Systems are chosen according to administrative criteria rather than what physicians need to get the job done," said one respondent.

According to the survey, Albert Villarin, MD, chief medical information officer for the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia, believes the healthcare industry is still experiencing so many difficulties because of the cost issue. 

"Many institutions can't afford to buy the level of quality and integrity with a global system for an entire network. We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars in a large market," he said.