Meaningful Use 'cumbersome' for three-fourths of docs

Close to 75 percent of doctors responding to an annual survey conducted by electronic health record vendor athenahealth indicated that Meaningful Use is a difficult or cumbersome process, the company announced last week. What's more, "very favorable" opinions on electronic health records dropped from 39 percent in 2011 to 32 percent this year, the Physician Sentiment Index--which consisted of 507 responses--showed.

"There is a lot of 'stuff' going on in healthcare that is making the noble pursuit of the MD degree a lot less attractive," athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush said in a statement. "Government involvement, ill-designed EHRs, and administrative complexities are encroaching on the sacred relationship between the physician and the patient and the ability for that doctor to be fully present at the point of care."

"Somewhat unfavorable" (11 percent) or "very unfavorable" (6 percent) opinions of EHRs both were up from 2011, albeit only slightly. Meanwhile, 72 percent of physicians called EHRs a "distraction from face-to-face patient interaction," up 12 percentage points from 2011.

The percentage of doctors saying that EHRs improved patient care dropped 6 percentage points, from 75 percent in 2011 to 69 percent in 2012.

Opinions of EHRs continue to be mixed. Some, like Harvard Medical School associate professor Kenneth Mandl, believe that vendors have propagated myths about their products, and that results could improve if the systems weren't as "monolithic." Others lament that there's no guaranteed increase in productivity and that EHRs often add extra steps to their workflow.

To learn more:
- download the athenahealth report (registration required)
- here's the accompanying announcement