Docs increasingly think EMRs will hurt care quality

Physicians' use of mobile devices appears to be on the rise, while confidence that electronic medical records can improve patient care is slightly down, according to the results of a new survey conducted by health practice reference company The Little Blue Book and Sharecare.

Two-thirds of the nearly 1,200 physicians surveyed said EMR integration is a top challenge, according to the report. At the same time, 34 percent said they believe that the quality of patient care will deteriorate due to EMRs, up from 24 percent in 2011. Still, 66 percent said that care either will improve (35 percent) or stay the same (31 percent).

The results are somewhat in line with physician sentiments recorded in a recent survey conducted by EMR vendor Athenahealth. Physician confidence in such technology, according to that survey, dropped from 39 percent in 2011 to 32 percent this year, while 72 percent of physicians called EMRs a "distraction from face-to-face patient interaction."

Overall, though, a majority of doctors participating in that survey (69 percent) still said they believed EMRs improved patient care.

Most physicians indicated that they still prefer to use desktop PCs or laptops for their clinical, practice management, e-prescribing and EMR work. For doctors who expressed a preference for mobile devices, however, smartphones were of particular value for addressing clinical needs.

With regard to iPad use for clinical needs, specialty surgeons used the technology more than any other group of doctors, including primary care physicians.

"Physicians today are practicing in a healthcare environment that they never could have predicted, much less prepared for," said Keith Steward, M.D., senior vice president of medical affairs at Sharecare, which acquired The Little Blue Book earlier this year. "Arming doctors with innovative solutions to ease administrative burdens is a top priority for the healthcare industry."

To learn more:
- here's the survey (.pdf)
- check out this accompanying infographic
- read the announcement