Healthcare Technology Featured Article

May 21, 2013

Many Physicians Still Not Buying EHRs

Reports from two different companies researching the same thing – how many American doctors use electronic health records (EHRs) -- have come up with drastically different results in their respective surveys, Information Week reports.

Managing and consulting firm Accenture found that nearly all of the U.S doctors it consulted said they use EHRs.

But a report from the research firm Deloitte shows quite the contrary, finding that two-thirds of physicians said they have an EHR capable of showing Meaningful Use (MU), i.e., systems that have basic capabilities. Roughly 15 percent of all respondents said they have no plans to purchase an EHR that meets MU criteria.

It's perplexing, as both surveys were done at the same time and included roughly the same number of US physicians.

Accenture polled 3,700 physicians in eight countries, including 500 US doctors, while Deloitte had just over 500 U.S doctors participate in its study. 

One notable discrepancy is that Deloitte asked about EHRs that were qualified for MU, whereas Accenture asked about any kind of EHR, a much broader question. 

Deloitte reveals that only half of physicians aged 60 or older had MU-ready EHRs. Younger doctors, unsurprisingly, are more electronics-friendly. The study found that 71 percent of doctors who were 25-39 years old had such EHRs, as did 71 percent of doctors aged 40-49. Sixty-seven percent of physicians aged 50-59 possess MU-ready EHRs.

The bigger the operation, the more likely the doctors are to have EHRs. Only 31 percent of physicians running a solo practice had EHRs, versus 62 percent in practices of two to nine physicians and 82 percent of those consisting of 10 or more doctors.

But those without aren't too keen on getting in on the EHRs game. Of the solo practitioners who do not have EHRs, 71 percent said they do not plan on getting any. Of doctors in midsized practices, 32 percent said they too had no plans on acquiring EHRs, as did 28 percent of those in large groups that do not yet have an EHR.

Why not get an EHR in an increasingly digital world? The biggest reasons, the survey found, were money-related. There's the upfront investment to tackle, along with ongoing maintenance costs. Then there's the complexity of delivering care with an EHR.

Since it's mainly the older generations shaking their heads at the technology, it seems that in twenty or so years, when these folks have retired, EHRs will take off.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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