EHR costs, woes continue to plague practices

Physicians are leaving private practice and seeking employment in large part due to the government's electronic health record requirements and related costs, which increase the overall cost of running a practice, according to a new report published by Accenture.

A majority of physicians surveyed (53 percent) specifically cited the EHR mandate as a primary reason for leaving private practice; 87 percent said that the overall cost and expense of running a business was the main concern influencing their decision to seek hospital employment instead. The report predicts that by 2013 only 36 percent of physicians will remain independent. Of those, one-third will turn to subscription based services, such as boutique medicine or online consults, to increase revenue.

The Accenture survey mirrors that of other recent reports of physician dissatisfaction, not only with EHR use, but also with the government push to adopt the technology. Physicians in the Washington, D.C.-area also cited that the high cost of EHRs and the government mandate is causing many of them to delay or avoid adopting the technology, despite the threat of eventual penalties for non-adoption, according to an article published this week in the Washington Post. This is especially true for older physicians who have accumulated "mounds of charts" and are uncertain if they'll be practicing long enough to warrant investing in such systems.  

Those who do plan to take the plunge, however, noted that while EHRs are "eventually" worthwhile in terms of workflow and other benefits, the path to success is difficult, with a long learning curve and concerns about data security.  

To learn more:
- read the FiercePracticeManagement article
- here's Accenture's announcement
- check out the Washington Post article