Knowledge Networks says half of docs now use EMRs

Hard to believe, but 52 percent of specialists and 50 percent of primary-care physicians claim to be using EMRs, up from 42 percent and 38 percent, respectively, two years earlier, a new survey indicates. The survey does not specify what EMR usage means.

"While use of this technology will soon be mandated, these 'early adopter' levels suggest a desire for digital convenience at a time when patient record keeping promises to become exponentially more complex," reports New York-based survey firm Knowledge Networks. The company conducted the study of nearly 11,000 healthcare professionals through the Physicians Consulting Network, which maintains a research panel of physicians and other caregivers.

(We quibble with whether 50 percent is "early adopter" level--or even accurate--and that technology will "soon be mandated." CMS will penalize those that haven't gotten to "meaningful use" by 2015, but won't exclude non-compliant providers. For that matter, participation in Medicare and Medicaid is voluntary.)

One possible explanation for the increased EMR use is the fact that physicians continue to be crunched for time, a situation that will only get worse as 32 million newly insured patients enter the healthcare system in coming years, thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Supporting this theory is the finding in the survey that 14 percent of primary-care docs and 12 percent of specialists expect to spend less time with pharmaceutical sales representatives in the next six months. Those numbers compare with 9 percent (PCP) and 8 percent (specialists) in the 2008 survey.

Meanwhile, physicians seem to be embracing smartphones to improve their efficiency. The survey found that 62 percent of specialists and 55 percent of primary-care physicians have such devices, and that at least 17 percent of these smartphone owners are using their phones for e-detailing from pharma reps.

"Healthcare professionals are embracing new technologies that promise more control and convenience; we cannot help but see a connection between the use of smartphones for e-detailing and an anticipated drop in time spent with sales reps," Knowledge Networks Senior VP Jim Vielee tells Healthcare IT News. "These trends seem destined to magnify as healthcare reform takes effect, creating dramatic upswings in doctors' case loads."

To learn more:
- see this Healthcare IT News story
- view this Knowledge Networks press release