Survey: Physician use of EHRs has met 'critical mass'

Electronic health records have become an accepted part of a physician's practice, in large part because of the Meaningful Use incentive program, according to Medscape's latest survey of physician practices.

The survey of 21,202 physicians from 25 specialties found that fully 82 percent are using an electronic health records systems or are in the process of installing one. Only 6 percent have no plans to adopt an EHR in the next one to two years. In 2009, the year the incentive program was created by the HITECH Act, only 38 percent of physicians reported using an EHR, and one third had no plans to purchase one.

The survey also found that the brands used by the largest percentage of respondents are EPIC (22 percent), Allscripts (10 percent) and Cerner (9 percent). However, the top ranked ones were Amazing Charts, Practice Fusion, VA-CPRS, Medent and e-MDs.

However, physicians aren't uniformly in love with their EHR systems. More than a fourth, 26 percent, reported decreased productivity and more than one half (54 percent) were not happy with their EHRs' interactivity. Only 23 percent said that EHRs made them more efficient; a mere 6 percent reported that their systems enabled them to earn more money.

It also appeared that the biggest driver in adoption was the potential of earning incentive money. Fully 83 percent of respondents reported that they plan to apply for incentives, and 44 percent have already attested to Meaningful Use.

These adoption rates continue to spiral upward. A recent survey from SK&A noted that nearly 50 percent of physicians surveyed in January had adopted EHRs; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this past spring reported adoption rates at 55 percent.  

"For physicians for whom EHR is not yet a way of life, it probably will be soon," the Medscape survey noted.

To learn more:
- here's the survey
- access the SK&A survey
- read the CDC's data brief