Another Study Highlights Physician EMR Unhappiness

The evidence keeps coming in, over and over, like waves pounding on a beach.  Many physicians aren’t happy with their EMRs, and the number of discontented doctors seems to be growing — with an undetermined but sizable number seeming likely to switch this year.

This time the evidence comes courtesy of the American College of Physicians and EMR selection site AmericanEHR Partners. A new study by the pair reports that physician satisfaction with EMRs dropped 12 percentage points between 2010 and 2012, and that the number who are “very dissatisfied” grew by 10 percentage points, FierceEMR reports.

These numbers, which were drawn from 4,279 responses to multiple surveys between March 2010 and December 2012, are a particularly strong reflection of the mood among smaller practices. Seventy-one percent of doctors/practices responding to the survey were in practices with 10 physicians or fewer, the ACP said.

These physicians seem downright upset with their current vendors. In fact, 39 percent of clinicians said they wouldn’t recommend their current EMR to a colleague, up sharply from the 24 percent who said the same in 2010.

According to the ACP, physicians feel their EMR is failing them in several key areas:

*  Improving care:  Doctors who were “very satisfied” with their EMR’s ability to improve care fell by 6 percent from 2010, while the “very dissatisfied” climbed 10 percent, with surgical specialists the least satisfied specialty.

Decreasing workload:  ACP found that 34 percent of users were “very dissatisfied” with their ability to decrease workload, up from just 19 percent in 2010.

Return to pre-EMR productivity:  The number of respondents who had not returned normal productivity after their EMR install was 32 percent in 2012, up from 20 percent in 2010.

Ease of use: Dissatisfaction with EMR ease of use climbed to 37 percent in 2012, up from 23 percent in 2012, while satisfaction dropped from 61 to 48 percent.

That we’re seeing something of an EMR backlash seems obvious here. The question is, will unhappy physicians switch futilely and end up just as unhappy, or are they going to actually improve their experience?