By now it is common knowledge that physicians and other providers haven’t seen the increasingly mandated use of health information technology such as electronic medical records as a universal blessing. An Accenture survey of 2600 doctors in six countries, the U.S., Brazil, Australia, England, Norway and Singapore, takes the pulse of current adoption and attitudes toward HIT. (Accenture Survey) The American survey had about 600 respondents, half primary care, half specialists. Almost 80% said they are more proficient now at using EHRs than they were two years ago. The top functions by use are entering patient notes, e-prescribing, entering clinical results, sending orders to the lab, and getting alerts about care. In terms of which functions help provide quality care, 61% said entering notes electronically, 50% said e-prescribing and nothing else registered in the top three for even half of the physicians. About a third did rank populating clinical results and getting data from other organizations among the top three functionalities to promote quality. In the last three years there has been an increase in routine use of most functionality. 82% now enter patient notes electronically, 72% e-prescribe, 65% get clinical results and 62% order lab tests through the system. The greatest growth has been in communication with patients, with a 131% increase to 30% of physicians.
Many more functions are now available to patients as well, such as requesting prescription refills, sending emails, acessing medical information and getting reminders about needed care. Over 80% of doctors say that patients being able to put information into personal EMRs helps engagement in health and increases patient satisfaction. On the downside, 58% say their EHR is hard to use. Concerns about ease of entering data and data quality abound and most find their system does not exchange information easily with other systems. 71% say more HIT has meant less time with patients. Compared to three years ago, fewer doctors say their EHR improves quality of treatment decisions, provides better outcomes to patients or reduces medical errors. Overall, as we have seen from other sources, EHR and HIT use is becoming almost universal, but satisfaction with available systems is reducing and physicians’ confidence the HIT improves quality has declined.