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Survey: U.S. Physicians Believe Health IT Tools will Lead to Better Quality, but Higher Costs

May 14, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
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According to a recent analysis by consulting firm Deloitte, 71 percent of all physicians believe that the promise of reduced costs resulting from increased use of health IT tools is inflated and that it will actually cost more, not less.

Despite the surveyed physicians’ hesitance in the adoption of health IT tools, 73 percent believe that health IT will improve the quality of care provided in the longer term. Additionally, 75 percent of all physicians consider that clinical capabilities are a major positive reason to collaborate with hospitals, a number that was higher among physicians employed in accountable care organizations (ACOs, 89 percent) and those working in integrated systems (84 percent).

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions 2013 Survey of U.S. Physicians included 613 physicians, two thirds of whom said that their practice has an electronic health record (EHR) system in compliance with Stage 1 of the Meaningful Use incentive program. For physicians working in an integrated system, that number rose to 89 percent.

A majority of physicians in practices that do not have an EHR meeting Stage 1 requirements say that the upfront financial investment (72 percent) and the additional burden to an already complex delivery process (70 percent) are the greatest barriers to EHR adoption, followed closely by ongoing maintenance costs (56 percent).

Among physicians whose practice has an EHR meeting Stage 1 requirements, overall satisfaction with the EHR is 63 percent (15 percent say they are “very satisfied” and 48 percent say they are “somewhat satisfied"). Based on their EHR experience, seven out of 10 physicians whose practice has an EHR meeting Stage 1 requirements think that the greatest EHR benefits are faster and more accurate service billing, time savings through e-prescribing, and improved communication and care coordination capabilities. Conversely, physician’s greatest concerns with EHRs are that that the time spent completing the EHR during an exam disrupts patient interactions.

“U.S. physicians who use HIT are optimistic about its prospects for better care and lower administrative costs once fully integrated,” the authors of the study said. “Physician non-adopters accept HIT as an inevitable requirement for practicing medicine in the future. However, they may be skeptical about clinical value and concerned about implementation costs. As a result, care coordination via cross-practice clinical data sharing is not widespread.” The authors do think that skepticism is likely to change, however.



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