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AAFP EMR Survey Offers Food For Thought

Posted on December 24, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Even the authors admit that the following study has got flaws, given that respondents weren’t randomly selected and some vendors screened out by its design.  Nonetheless, new EMR satisfaction research by the American Academy of Family Practice gives us some interesting stats to consider.

The study, which was published in the November/December issue of its Family Practice Management  journal, draws on 3,088 responses from AAFP members, who responded to a series of questions regarding which EMRs they used and how comfortable they were with those EMRs.  Respondents reported using a total of 160 named EMRs, but the study dropped 129 which were used by 12 or fewer practices in an effort to simplify the results, leaving 31 systems for analysis.

The systems with the strongest satisfaction ratings, ranging from roughly 80 percent too over 50 percent, were Praxis, HealthConnect, MEDENT, Amazing Charts and SOAPware. eMDs,  Practice Fusion, Point and Click EHR, EpicCare Ambulatory and Vista CPRS followed closely, with scores clustered around 50 percent.

Not too surprisingly, EMRs that were ranked easy to use were largely the same ones which got high satisfaction ratings. Topping that list was Point and Click EHR at nearly 80 percent, followed by Amazing Charts, Practice Fusion, Praxis, SOAPware, Aprima, MEDENT,eMDs, HealthConnect, Vista CPRS, with Care360 EHR rounding out the bottom of the top 10 at roughly 47 percent.

The only surprise the authors highlighted came in response to a question asking which EMRs helped doctors see more patients or go home earlier than they could with paper charts. In that case, Praxis stood out, with doctors who agreed hitting about 80 percent. The number who agreed for the next on the list, SOAPware, fell immediately to just over 40 percent, with the other players falling even lower on the scale.

Even with its deliberate statistical laxity — authors described their intent as being more of an “advice from colleagues” format — this certainly offers some stats to chew on. In particular, I’d love to know what Praxis is doing right. After all, when it comes right down to it, productivity is king.

Cognitive Dissonance and EMRs

Posted on July 18, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

A new CDC study has documented what’s pretty much old news to us EMR watchers, that more than half of U.S. doctors have taken their charts digital. The study also concluded that most are pretty happy with their EMR, heaven help us, and that it’s improved patient care.

According to a study by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, 55 percent of U.S. doctors have adopted some type of EMR.  More interestingly, for folks like me at least, 75 percent of those who have have met Meaningful Use Stage 1 criteria, something I might not have predicted if I hadn’t read the study.

This seems a bit strange to me, honestly. I’ve talked to countless doctors about their EMRs, both hospital- and practice-based, and I’ve only met a couple who actually felt satisfied with the system(s) they use. I haven’t met any that felt the systems have improved patient care, though I admit my sample isn’t drawn scientifically. (Vendors, I’m not saying that *nobody’s* happy, just that these numbers sound high, to be clear.)

The best explanation I can come up with for such results, which came from 3,200 doctors completing a mail-in survey, is the impact of cognitive dissonance.  Let me explain.

Doctors are being  pressured with thumb screws to make the switch, and it’s hardly surprising that most have come around.  So they’ve gone ahead and spent what in some cases are huge sums of money to make the leap.

The thing is, when you’re forced to use something every day, you can’t just keep on hating it more and more. Nobody has that much energy.  So over time, you resolve the cognitive dissonance — the battling “EMR painful” and “EMR necessary” thoughts — by learning to love Big Brother EMR, or at least believe that you do.

Then again, though I’d have trouble believing this, maybe there’s hordes of satisfied doctors that never come to the attention of a cynic like me. What do you think?