Survey: Docs adopting health IT slowly

Physicians are adopting electronic health record systems and other health technology, but perhaps not as fast as the government would like, according to Physician Practice's 2012 technology survey.

According to the survey of 1,356 practices, a majority of independent practices (54 percent) reported that they have adopted an EHR. A slightly higher percentage (57.6 percent) said that their implementation is complete and that the system is being used. Less than a third (30 percent) said they are using patient portals, while more than 33 percent said they planned on joining a health information exchange for the sharing of data.

An article accompanying the survey called such trends "understandable," pointing out that as healthcare-related tech tools increasingly emerge, so to will confusion about what practices will need to acquire and what they can easily go without.

Physicians also were honest about some of the problems they've encountered with EHR implementation. While two-thirds of respondents reported that their EHRs made their workflow more efficient, almost a half said that it took more than six months to implement the system. Of those, more than 17 percent said that implementation lasted longer than 18 months.

Moreover, for all of the media attention given to "the cloud," physicians said they were more comfortable using EHR systems on their own servers, with 69 percent opting for self contained systems (compared with nearly 31 percent using web-based systems). Those figures were consistent with the CDC's findings in its recently published data brief on EHR use and adoption.

Interestingly, more than half of the respondents (roughly 53 percent) said that the Meaningful Use program did not make them more likely to buy an EHR, which also could explain why EHR adoption isn't climbing rapidly, and why so few of the physicians surveyed said they don't plan on joining an HIE. Information sharing is a major component of Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use incentive program.

To learn more:
- here's the survey
- read the accompanying article