Physician EMR Usage-An Overview

July 26, 2012

Electronic Medical Record use is clearly a topic that dominates the health information technology world.  With benefits including improved patient care stemming from increased physician collaboration, broader medical record accessibility, and error prevention software features, it is easy to support the government’s goal of 100% EMR usage across all healthcare facilities.  While EMRs certainly offer advantages to healthcare professionals and patients across the board, physicians remain as one of the most (if not the most) important sects whose usage of EMRs can transform the care the population receives.  Let’s examine the facts to-date surrounding physician EMR use.

A recent federal study released on July 18 by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uncovered many positive elements surrounding physician EMR usage.  Driven by data collected in 2011, the study showed that more and more physicians are using EMR systems, and of those who are using them, most are satisfied.  Fifty-five percent of responding office-based physicians stated that they have adopted EMR technology.  Of that 55% who have adopted EMR systems, 85% stated that that they were either very satisfied (38%) or somewhat satisfied (47%) with their system.  In addition, about three-quarters of adopters stated that using their EMR systems resulted in improved patient care.

Also notable is the discovery that of the physicians who have adopted EMR systems, about three-quarters reported that their system meets federal meaningful use criteria, which can entitle their facility to incentive payments from Medicare and Medicaid.  When drilling down a little deeper, the study uncovered some interesting facts regarding the breakdown of EMR adopters.  For example, the proportion of physicians who were adopters increased as the practice size went up.  Twenty-nine percent of solo practitioners were adopters compared to 60% of physicians in two-physician practices.  Continuing, 62% of physicians were adopters in 3-10 physician practices versus 86% of physicians being adopters in physician practices of 11 or more.  In addition, physicians employed by community health centers, academic health centers, and HMOs were more likely to have adopted an EMR system than those physicians in physician-owned practices.  Finally, age factored into the equation for EMR adoption.  Sixty-four percent of physicians under age 50 were adopters compared to 49% of physicians over age 50 being adopters.

Perhaps of interest to the more technological-minded is the finding that more adopters (59%) use a stand-alone system versus a web-based system (41%).  Possibly demonstrating loyalty to software brands is the fact that 71% of adopters said they would purchase their particular EMR system again.  Speaking to the benefits that EMR technology offers, 74% of adopters reported accessing a patient’s chart remotely within the past 30 days and 50% of adopters reported having been alerted to critical lab values within the past 30 days.  In addition, 41% stated they had been alerted to potential medication errors and 39% were reminded to provide preventative care, both also within the past 30 days.

Despite more widespread EMR usage amongst physicians, there is still a significant amount of doctors who are not adopters.  Thirty-two percent of non-adopters reported having no intent to purchase a system within the next 12 months.  Twenty percent reported being undecided on whether or not to purchase a system within the next 12 months.  However, the remaining 48% of nonadopters reported that they either already had purchased a system or were planning to purchase a system within the next 12 months.

This federal study is an excellent snapshot that discusses physician sentiments and practical applications towards EMR systems.  As we move through Stage 2 of Meaningful Use and into Stage 3, it is likely that physician usage of EMR systems will rise as penalties for non-compliance take effect.  Hopefully, the reported satisfaction from physicians who already use EMR systems will influence nonadopters to jump on the bandwagon and work to continually improve patient care across the country.

EMR Jobs and EMR Services
Excite Health Partners is pleased to support physician adoption of EMR systems by offering EMR services to clients nationwide.  Contact us today at 877-803-5804 or visit us online for more information.  In addition, Excite is proud to offer EMR-based jobs to H.I.T. professionals across the country.  Contact us today at 877-803-5804 or visit us online for more information about available opportunities.