In the wake of the National Center for Health Statistics' data brief on physician adoption of EHR systems, Farzad Mostashari, MD, MSc, national coordinator of health IT, is encouraged by the high satisfaction rate and "tangible benefits" available to patients today, he wrote in a post on the Department of Health and Human Services' HealthITBuzz blog.
The 85 percent of physicians who reported being very or somewhat satisfied with their EHR system contradicts the providers who have told Mostashari about their dissatisfaction.
"These providers tell me that that their systems don’t work correctly and present significant workflow challenges with little potential to improve patient care," he wrote. "The data released today ask about those concerns and finds, through rigorous, scientific surveying and analysis, a small portion (15 percent) of those who have adopted EHRs have those concerns."
He also cited the 74 percent of physicians who reported that their use of an EHR within the last 30 days enhanced their overall patients’ care and the 71 percent who said they would purchase their EHR system again. "Physicians also reported a variety of specific benefits—both for themselves and their patients—from the use of their EHR systems," he wrote. "Half of those physicians who have adopted EHRs reported being alerted to critical lab values (i.e., lab results that fall above or below the normal range) and more than 40 percent were alerted to potential medication errors. Almost three-quarters of EHR adopters reported that within the last 30 days they accessed their patients’ charts remotely, improving care and enhancing patient safety by providing the physician access to critical information when he or she is offsite, or after hours."
Mostashari pointed out the importance of the opportunities for improvement. He specifically mentioned the fact that less than one-third of physicians reported that their EHR helped them identify needed lab tests, and only one-quarter of EHR adopters reported using their EHR in the last 30 days for patient communications.
"We are taking action to address these issues," he wrote, referring to the recently announced initiative to use the Direct Project to send lab results directly to EHRs and the proposed requirements for Stage 2 meaningful use with an emphasis on standards-based information exchange and patient and family engagement. "While more work certainly needs to be done, today’s data shows that most physicians are satisfied with their EHRs and believe that their systems provide tangible benefits for patients today. This will only increase as physicians become more skilled at using their systems and systems continue to evolve to support additional capabilities."
Access the entire post on the HealthITBuzz blog.