EHRs have both positive, negative effect on physician satisfaction

There's a love/hate relationship between physicians and electronic health records, according to a study of physician satisfaction by RAND Health.

In data gathered from 30 physician practices in six states, docs reported EHRs had both positive and negative effects on their satisfaction. For instance, while physicians like being able to remotely access patient information and cite improvements in quality of care attributable to EHR technology, many also said they are frustrated with issues including poor usability, time-consuming data entry, less time for face-to-face patient care and degradation of clinical documentation by trying to force it into structured fields.

Physicians also pointed out problems with information overload, as having more EHR functions--such as reminders, alerts, and messaging capabilities--was associated with lower professional satisfaction, according to the researchers.

Additionally, for some, EHRs were more expensive than expected, threatening the financial sustainability of their practices.

Still, primary care physicians, in particular, described how EHRs improved their ability to provide guideline-based care and track patients' markers of disease control over time.

In larger practices, doctors mentioned how having everyone on the same EHR system improved between-provider communication.

The RAND study covered physician sentiment on an array of factors affecting their career satisfaction. In the recent 2013 Great American Physician Survey, 40 percent of doctors said they would pick a different career if they could go back in time. They were unhappy about third-party interference (32 percent), lack of adequate insurance coverage for patients (37 percent) and lack of time to adequately educate patients on better health strategies (19 percent).

And dissatisfaction with their EHR systems appears to be on the rise, according to a survey by the American College of Physicians and AmericanEHR Partners. That dissatisfaction prompted Black Book to declare 2013 the "Year of the Great EHR Vendor Switch."

To learn more:
- find the study