Digging into docs' love-hate relationship with EHRs

If you ask a doctor what she hates about electronic health records, you're liable to get an earful. But it turns out that docs have something to say when it comes to what they love about EHRs, too.

Interviews with a number of practitioners in American Medical News reveal some themes.

Docs hate that there's no guaranteed increase in productivity, that EHRs often add extra steps to their workflow and send them hunting for difficult-to-find data, for example.

But they love that documentation is more thorough, which leads to better charge capture, which in turn leads to better reimbursement. And even though it's sometimes hard to find data, it's still a whole lot easier than shifting through stacks of paper.

"The computer is always a good and a bad story if you ask me," Dean F. Sittig, Ph.D., professor of biomedic informatics at the University of Texas Health Science Center told amednews. "It's a hugely important new tool for your clinic, and you have got to learn to use it. It's not a simple thing. It's not like a new kind of stethoscope. It's a whole new way of doing something."

Providers have earned more than $5 billion in incentive payments for Meaningful Use of electronic health records, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Through April, roughly 93,650 physicians and hospitals have received payments, FierceHealthIT reports.

Earlier this month, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report found the number of physicians reporting the use of EHRs rose to 57 percent in 2011, up from 17 percent in 2002, according to FierceEMR. The foundation also reported wide variances in adoption by state.

To learn more:
- read the American Medical News article

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