|The Health Record Review
by Jeff Rowe, Editor
Posted on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 - 11:54 am
This being an election year, one would have to be riding shotgun on Curiousity in order to avoid a survey or two.
But while most surveys can probably be viewed as providing a temporary snapshot of an issue, sometimes they just might deliver some longer term nuggets of useful information.
For example, a recent survey sponsored by Medscape surveyed more than 21,000 doctors about their use, or lack thereof, of EHRs. According to this article, the survey “found that 74% of (those surveys) already were using an EHR and that another 8% of them were currently installing or implementing systems.”
Not surprisingly, according to the executive editor of Medscape’s Business of Medicine division, “the rapid increase in physician adoption of EHRs this year is directly related to the government's incentives for Meaningful Use of qualified EHRs and the penalties for not showing Meaningful Use.”
Perhaps even more interesting, though, was her observation that “peer pressure has had an effect as EHR adoption has reached critical mass. ‘The number of doctors stonewalling against EHRs has dropped, and people are getting on the bandwagon,’ she said.”
So it seems not unreasonable to suspect that the incentives may already have done their job, and that, even after the incentive program has run its course the transition will probably continue.
To our eyes, however, the most interesting takeaway was related to what kinds of EHRs providers preferred. “Why did physicians appear to prefer simpler and less expensive EHRs to more capable, sophisticated EHRs with rich features?”
According to the editor, “physicians have a harder time mastering all of the features in the complicated systems that many organizations purchase. ‘Some of the more complex programs are less valuable to doctors than the easier, more intuitive programs.’”
An observation like this helps vendors, of course, as they work to develop products that physicians actually like to use. But it seems that it should also be viewed as a cautionary note for policymakers.
There often seems no end to the goals for which health IT proponents would like to put new and emerging technologies to work. At root, however, no one should lose sight of the fact that health IT should help individual doctors do their jobs. And if that means erring on the side of simplicity, and holding off on a few of the loftier policy goals, so be it.