During the past six years, the American Academy of Family Physicians has surveyed its members to assess the user satisfaction of their electronic health records systems, with another survey being done in 2012.

Results and trends spotted over the years--with vendors named--will be explained during an education session at HIMSS12 in Las Vegas. For instance, the smaller market products tend to get the higher user satisfaction ratings than EHRs from major vendors--with Epic the exception, says Kenneth Adler, M.D., a family physician and medical director of information technology at Arizona Community Physicians in Tucson.

Adler conducts the surveys with Robert Edsall, editor-in-chief of Family Practice Management, a journal of AAFP. The first survey in 2005 got 408 responses and the 2011 survey garnered 2,719 responses.

In the session, Adler will focus on 2011 survey results, which found respondents are widely satisfied with such EHR functions as the ability to customize, electronic prescribing and e-messaging (sending tasks within the office). Respondents generally are not happy with vendor support or training (39 percent satisfied), or clinical analytics and disease management capabilities.

There are various characteristics that play a role in EHR user satisfaction. Up to a certain point, for instance, the larger the practice the less satisfied users are. The higher a user rates his or her ability to use the system, the less satisfied they are. But hands-down, the big differentiator is whether physicians played a strong role in vendor selection.

Regardless, the surveys have shown that vendors have a long way to go before EHRs reach their promise, Adler says. “EHRs are not intuitive, they’re hard to use and there’s plenty of room for improvement.”

The session, “EHR User Satisfaction: Lessons from Six Years of National Surveys,” is scheduled on Feb. 22 at 8:30 a.m.

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