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Premier Survey: Many Providers Remain Dissatisfied With EHRs, Despite Heavy Investments

June 2, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Approximately 41 percent of providers are dissatisfied or indifferent in regards to their current electronic health record (EHR) systems, according to a recent survey of C-suite executives by the Charlotte, N.C.-based Premier, Inc.

Nonetheless, nearly half (49 percent) of the C-suite respondents plan to make their largest capital investments over the next year in health IT, to include EHRs, advanced data analytics and telecommunications, according to survey results. This category was most often cited for the second consecutive year, up from 46 percent in spring 2013 and 45 percent from spring 2012. The acquisition of clinical equipment (surgical, imaging and lab) was cited by 22 percent of executives as the area in which they are planning the largest capital investments, up from 12 percent in spring 2013.

“Hospitals are making necessary investments in infrastructure to meet the demands of this new generation of healthcare,” Michael J. Alkire, chief operating officer, Premier, said in a statement. “These investments are targeting HIT to provide more connected and efficient patient care, and modern clinical equipment that can deliver improved outcomes.

“What we are hearing increasingly from healthcare leaders is dissatisfaction with their existing EHR systems, often citing cost and difficulty of use,” continued Alkire. “Providers need a solution that integrates clinical, financial and operational data across their hospitals and health systems; the majority of EHR systems cannot do that.”

Back in October 2013, a survey from the Santa Monica, Calif.-based nonprofit research organization, the RAND Corporation, revealed that physicians are not big fans of EHRs, saying they are too cumbersome to operate and a big reason for their job dissatisfaction. According to the physicians in that survey, the systems interfered with face-to-face discussions with patients, forced physicians to spend too much time performing clerical work, and degraded the accuracy of medical records by encouraging template-generated notes. Furthermore, physicians say the systems are too costly and don’t allow them to “talk” to each other, preventing the transmission of patient medical information when it is needed.

As a part of its spring 2014 Economic Outlook, Premier surveyed 127 C-suite executives—primarily CEOs, chief financial officers and chief operating officers—from 112 hospitals and health systems of various sizes and types across 32 states.

Additional survey results included:

  • Labor is considered the biggest driver of healthcare costs, cited by 42 percent of executives compared to 24 percent six months ago. Healthcare legislation and mandates was also often cited, by 34 percent of executives. In addition, compared to fall 2013, significantly more respondents cited health IT as the biggest driver of costs in their system (27 percent vs. 17 percent).
  • Three of four providers are experiencing physician or nurse shortages, with 42 percent experiencing shortages in more than one practice area.
  • For the third consecutive year, reimbursement cuts remain the most often cited trend expected to impact providers this year, selected by 69 percent of executives.
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