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Meaningful Use Still Strongest Driver for HIT Implementation

August 15, 2011
by Jennifer Prestigiacomo
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Patients ‘greatest advocate for EHR technology’

Meaningful use incentives are still one of the strongest drivers for most physicians (64 percent) to implement electronic health records (EHRs), according to a study of ambulatory physicians using EHRs and those in the market for them.

The survey findings indicate that besides the 32 percent of those who are in the market for EHR, insufficient capital is still a key challenge to move forward with EHRs, even though a majority indicated the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act/Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (ARRA-HITECH) Act funds would allow them to afford the technology.
The study, which focused on physicians in practices of fewer than 50 physicians, was sponsored by Tampa, Fla.-based EHR company Sage Healthcare Division and administered by Forrester Research (Cambridge, Mass.).

“One of the things that surprised me the most was how positive patients of EHR users were, and they actually turned out to be our greatest advocates for EHR technology,” says Tony Ryzinski, a senior vice president in Sage’s Healthcare Division. “They really liked the fact that they perceived their comments were taken verbatim so in the event that information had to be shared down the road with a specialist, what they said the first time would make it to the next physician.”

Financial Drivers for EHR
The study also showed some promising financial statistics:

  • Eighty percent of physicians who have already implemented EHR largely reached their business goals of lower costs
  • Seventy-two percent of those surveyed saw the increased availability of floor space that was previously occupied by paper records as a major advantage of EHR, second only to reduced administrative costs (82 percent)
  • Of all the EHR users surveyed, 52 percent said that reduced paper and office expenses saved them the most money

Ryzinski says both users and potential buyers of an EHR solution see the value of using the technology but have substantially different perceptions and expectations of the system before and after adoption. “The non-user, what they’re most interested in is increased revenue; then when they go and purchase it, it changes, and reporting and tracking becomes the most important thing,” he says. The study showed EHR users measured their EHR success through reporting and tracking healthcare outcomes (64 percent) and error reduction (62 percent), but those who have yet to purchase EHR responded they would measure EHR success through increased revenue (74 percent) followed by reporting and tracking healthcare outcomes (60 percent).

Other Key Findings

Among All Survey Participants:

  • Seventy-seven percent saw ease of use and speed as a top characteristic in an EHR solution
  • Thirty-nine percent of respondents ranked improved and timely access to accurate patient information as the most important reason to achieve their EHR goals, followed by reduced time spent in information search and management (34 percent)
  • When surveyed physicians were asked about SaaS as an alternative to an in-office solution, both those with or without EHR (39 percent) had security and data privacy concerns about the outsourced solution

Among All EHR Users:

  • Fifty-six percent see error reduction as the number one tangible benefit of EHR, followed by ability to share patient information (38 percent)
  • Sixty-eight percent have seen mobile access to information as the biggest intangible benefit of EHR (34 percent)
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