Survey: Docs Skeptical of EHRs, Hate Reform

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A recent survey of nearly 3,000 physicians shows high levels of displeasure with the Affordable Care Act--and a lot of them don't like electronic health records either.

Of the 2,958 physicians surveyed in September, only 39 percent believe EHRs will have a positive effect on the quality of patient care. Twenty-four percent believe EHRs will have a negative effect on quality, and 37 percent forecast a neutral factor.

HCPlexus, publisher of the The Little Blue Book reference guide for physicians, developed and conducted the survey with content vendor Thomson Reuters. The survey sample came from physicians in HCPlexus' database. The fax-based survey was done in September 2010, with additional information directly gathered via phone or e-mail from hundreds of the surveyed physicians in December and January.

The results show dismal expectations for health care reform. Sixty-five percent of respondents believe the quality of care in the United States will deteriorate during the next five years, with only 18 percent expecting improvement.

Seventy-four percent fear their pay will decrease in coming years with only 9 percent thinking pay will rise. Overall, 78 percent of surveyed physicians think the Affordable Care Act will have a negative impact on the physician community; 57 percent believe the law will negatively affect patients.

* One big reason for skepticism is that Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement continues to fall, and Medicaid will cover many of the 32 million uninsured individuals targeted to be insured under the law. Surveyed physicians believe that primary care physicians and nurse practitioners will treat the vast majority of these individuals, with the NPs treating as many as the PCPs. The reason, according to respondents: because of the low reimbursements, physicians will focus on treating patients covered under commercial insurance while leaving NPs to treat Medicaid patients.

The survey also does not show a lot of support for development of Accountable Care Organizations authorized in the reform bill, primarily because 45 percent of surveyed physicians don't know what an ACO is. Only 12 percent are in discussions to join an ACO.

A free copy of survey results, which include many thought-provoking direct quotes from physicians on a range of issues, is available at Registration is required.

--Joseph Goedert


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