Physician practices disillusioned as they don’t maximize EHR benefits

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Nearly 90 percent of physician practices with six or fewer practitioners are not using optimization tools included in their electronic health record systems, according to findings in a new report from Black Book Research.

Those capabilities give practices the ability to take advantage of patient engagement services, secure messaging, decision support and health information exchange. Black Book surveyed about 19,000 EHR users across practices of all sizes and types to assess the industry environment for EHR replacement activity.

“Traditionally, it’s been the smaller and solo practices with the highest dissatisfaction ratings for electronic health record applications,” says Doug Brown, managing director at Black Book. “We confirmed also that the smaller the practice, the less likely they are to use advanced IT tools, and that’s where EHR frustration among small practices is generally focused.”

Also See: Specialist-specific EHRs showing improved physician satisfaction

While smaller practices may not be taking full advantage of their EHRs, 30 percent of practices with 11 or more clinicians are looking to replace their systems during the next four years because of customization issues.

These larger practices are looking for a technology package that offers highly customizable electronic records, practice management, revenue cycle, ICD-10 and coding software. In addition, mid-sized practices also are interested in cloud-based mobile solutions to have on-demand access to actionable data on financial, compliance, quality and contractual goals, as well as eyeing telehealth, speech recognition and population health products.

What almost all surveyed practices of all types have in common is frequent use of three basic EHR tools: data repository, order entry and results review.

“When we look at apples-to-apples client satisfaction among small practices, it’s about basic functionality experience,” Brown notes. But the bottom line is that most of the smaller practices are not going past the basics, and thus, most are failing to optimize or recognize any benefits from their systems.

Brown specifically warns solo practitioners that they face growing peril if they fail to prepare for the 91 percent of patients under age 50 who have smartphones and other devices. “The technology expectations of upcoming generations will likely then contribute to the gradual demise of independent solo physician practices if they do not invest and provide what healthcare consumers clearly want,” he adds.

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