RAND: EHRs 'significantly worsened' doc satisfaction

Physicians' views of electronic health records are still mixed despite widespread adoption, seen as good in concept but that they "significantly worsened" their professional satisfaction, according to a new RAND Health report.

Conducted at the request of the American Medical Association, the report focused on determining the factors that lead to physician fulfillment. Its authors found that EHRs were a source of both promise and frustration. While they enabled doctors to improve quality of care and remotely access medical records, EHRs also:

  • Required time-consuming data entry that could be better accomplished by clerks and scribes;
  • Were difficult to use;
  • Interfered with patient face to face interaction;
  • Lacked interoperability; and
  • Degraded clinical documentation

The report recommended that "better EHR usability should be an industry priority and a precondition for EHR certification."

In a commentary accompanying the report, the researchers noted that the study was not originally focused on physicians' views of EHRs, but that their reaction to them was "intense." They also stated that efforts were underway to improve EHRs and perhaps  medical records could be redesigned.

"If practicing physicians are correct, the current state of EHR technology has introduced several impediments to providing patient care, undermining physician professional satisfaction," the authors concluded. "Many of these problems--such as the proliferation of clinical information that doctors don't trust--also should be of great concern to patients. Patients, providers, payers, and vendors all have an interest in improving the usability of EHRs and integrating them into clinical workflows that produce better, more efficient care."

The results mirror other recent findings on EHRs and physician satisfaction, including this recent article from the Star Tribune, which reported that EHRs are both a boon and a burden to physicians in Minnesota.   

To learn more:
- read the report
- here's the commentary
- check out Star Tribune article