Survey: Docs show little concern for meaningful use penalties

A recent survey finds physicians are not well-informed about financial penalties for complying with meaningful use – and that they may have little effect on the decision to implement an EMR.

Physicians' Reciprocal Insurers (PRI), headquartered in Long Island, NY, released the results of the survey, which polled more than 500 physicians regarding the implementation of EMR systems.

One significant finding of the study revealed physciains' awareness of financial incentives and penalties for implementing EMR systems. While 85 percent of physicians were aware of the financial incentives for implementing the systems, more than 35 percent did not know that they face government-assessed financial penalties for not complying beginning in January 2015. The penalties are equal to a one percent reduction of the physician's annual Medicare payments per year up to five percent.  The survey found that more than 65 percent of physicians who were unaware of the financial penalties said this would not cause them to implement EMR.

For physicians that do plan to convert, the survey revealed considerable concerns regarding implementation. Leading the list of concerns is cost, about which nearly 85 percent of physicians polled said they are "very" or "somewhat" concerned. This number stands out when compared to responses regarding how much physicians plan to spend on EMR systems. Seventy percent of respondents expect to spend over $15,000.

Physicians' concerns about cost were closely followed by training staff on EMR systems, which 79 percent of physicians are "very" or "somewhat" concerned about. Lowest on the list of concerns was "loss of patient information."

Despite cost and staff training concerns, a narrow majority of the physicians surveyed believe EMR systems will prove to be a valuable resource in medical practices. More than 58 percent of the physicians surveyed responded that EMR systems will have a positive or very positive impact on the quality of patient care.

"The ability to pull patient records and use the data in a collaborative environment will change the way healthcare is administered, and contribute the reduction of risk," said Gerri Donohue, associate director of risk management education at PRI. "It's encouraging to see that the majority of physicians understand this benefit."