More than any other recent change to our healthcare system, the electronic health record (EHR) has become the focus of physician disdain.

With research published in 2016 in the Annals of Internal Medicine showing physicians spend two hours on EHR and desk work for every hour they work directly with patients, it is any wonder physicians who participated in Geneia’s nationwide survey of 300 full-time physicians said things like:

  • “Physicians shouldn’t be expected to be the source of data entry.”
  • “EHRs have never been about patient care. Ever. They’re about billing, coding, insurance needs and epidemiology. Since MDs are reduced to data entry clerks, they burn out.”
  • “As long as EHRs are around, it will be a major factor in physician burnout. That’s why we don’t have it in our 3 pediatrician group. And we LOVE that we don’t. Plus, paper can’t be hacked!”
  • “Less time entering all the data. I hate being a ‘data-entry specialist.’”

Geneia’s 2018 survey also found:

  • 80 percent say they are personally at risk for burnout at some point in their career.
  • Nearly all surveyed doctors (96 percent) report they have personally witnessed or personally experienced negative impacts as a result of physician burnout such as lower empathy for and detachment from patients.
  • 89 percent say the “business and regulation of healthcare” has changed the practice of medicine for the worse.

Given the high levels of physician burnout, it may surprise you that physicians, in fact, have mixed feelings about EHRs, data and analytics. More than half of the physicians who participated in the Geneia survey say the introduction of EHRs has had both negative and positive impacts. Similarly, 57 percent of doctors say the “introduction of advanced data and analytics tools, population health software and data registries has been a positive and a negative development for practicing physicians.”

Geneia’s report, Physician Sentiment Mixed About EHRs and Analytics, looks more closely at physician sentiment about the use of EHRs and data and analytics. Among the more interesting findings are:

  • 86 percent agree “the heightened demand for data reporting to support quality metrics and the business-side of healthcare has diminished my joy in practicing medicine.”
  • More than two-thirds (68 percent) say advanced analytics tools are important “when it comes to treating and being compensated for care under value-based care arrangements in today’s U.S. healthcare system.”
  • Physicians with more exposure to data and analytics tools – those who self-identify as current population health users – have a slightly more positive outlook on the benefits; 64 percent of population health users have a positive view of the ability of data and analytics tools to help “efficiently assess patient history and needs” compared to 50 percent of non-users.

The Opportunity for Health IT and EHR Vendors

The survey results point to an opportunity for health IT and EHR vendors. Involving the end-users – physicians – in the design and implementation of health technology products as well as measuring physician satisfaction before and after implementation is likely to improve physician adoption while reducing physician burnout.

To learn more about physician sentiment towards EHRs and analytics, view Geneia’s report.

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