ACC survey looks at impact of information on practice

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The latest edition of American College of Cardiology's (ACC) CardioSurve newsletter takes a look at the impact and utilization of information from the clinical perspective at the point of care, where digital access is as common as a stethoscope, to the back office procedures once mired in paper processing that now operate on an information cloud. This focus on data streaming is an important facet of the continuum of care that impacts all aspects of practices from patient outcomes to reimbursement.

A large majority of cardiologists surveyed (77 percent) believed improved access to online medical information and resources has improved the quality of care at their practice. Additionally, 53 percent of cardiologists have changed an initial diagnosis based upon new information that they accessed via online resources/support tools.

Although online resources and communication have helped their practices in many ways, still nearly three out of four cardiologists (72 percent) believed that the daily volume of online communications received from colleagues, care team members and patients is overwhelming. Furthermore, 66 percent of cardiologists said it is difficult to balance efficiency and quality of care.

Most cardiologists typically access clinical sites for information while they are at home (83 percent), after hours at work (80 percent) or in between patients (82 percent). In terms of helping patients at the point of care, more than two out of three cardiologists (70 percent) surveyed said they have accessed a clinical site during a patient visit. While a large majority of cardiolo­gists (80 percent) are still using desktops to access clinical information during patient visits, the iPhone was the second most commonly cited device used at the point of care (43 percent). Of note, while most cardiologists (82 percent) use EHRs at their practice, these systems are not typically linked to online resources.

CardioSurve also took a look at adoption of the federal EHR Incentive Program. Thirty-three percent of cardiologists and 44 percent of practice administrators reported successful attestation to the program. Of those, 49 percent have received an incentive payment for 2011. This translates into a 22 percent successful participation rate in 2011 and seems to mirror the latest numbers released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in May, indicating that 3,884 physicians identified as cardiologists successfully participated in the program.