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8/11/2011
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Federal Incentives Major Reason To Buy EHRs: Survey

Among those doctors still in the market for an EHR, 32% cite insufficient capital as a key challenge.

Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety
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Slideshow: Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety
Sixty four percent of physicians still see Meaningful Use incentives as one of the strongest reasons to invest in an electronic health record (EHR)--whether they use one already or are thinking about buying one. But for 32% of those who are in the market for an EHR, insufficient capital is still a key challenge. That's the conclusion of a recent national survey of 100 physicians.

The survey, conducted by EHR vendor Sage Healthcare Division and Forrester Research and released on Wednesday, also showed that while EHR users said they measure their EHR success through reporting and tracking healthcare outcomes (64%) and error reduction (62%), those who have yet to purchase an EHR said they would measure EHR success through increased revenue (74%) followed by reporting and tracking healthcare outcomes (60%).

"Implementation of EHRs in the U.S. continues to grow as an increased number of physicians and staff gain a better understanding of the efficiency and cost-saving benefits of using the technology," Betty Otter-Nickerson, president of the Sage Healthcare Division, said in a statement. "However, a significant number of office-based practices have yet to implement an EHR."

The survey also found that current EHR users are more aware of the additional benefits of these tools, compared to those who haven't implemented the technology yet, and expected achievements with an EHR are stronger for those who have already purchased one.

Among all survey participants, the key findings were:

-- Seventy-seven percent saw ease of use and quickness as a top characteristic in an EHR.

-- Thirty-nine percent of respondents ranked improved and timely access to accurate patient information as the most important reason to get an EHR, followed by reduced time spent in information search and management (34%).

-- Physicians who have already implemented EHRs perceive somewhat more value in lower costs and improved staff efficiency than those in the market for an EHR solution (35% versus 25%).

-- When surveyed physicians were asked about software-as-a-service (SaaS) as an alternative to an in-office system, both those with or without an EHR (39%) had security and data privacy concerns about the outsourced system.

Among EHR users, the survey found that:

-- Physicians who have already implemented an EHR largely reached their business goals of lower costs and improved patient service (80%) and improved staff efficiency (74%).

-- 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%).

-- Fifty-six percent see error reduction as the number one tangible benefit of an EHR, followed by ability to share patient information (38%).

-- Sixty-eight percent have seen mobile access to information as the biggest intangible benefit of EHR.

-- Of all the EHR users surveyed, 52% said that reduced paper and office expenses saved them the most money.

Among the physicians who were not yet using an EHR, 30% would prefer having in-office system to one that is outsourced, such as SaaS or off-client software.

Find out how health IT leaders are dealing with the industry's pain points, from allowing unfettered patient data access to sharing electronic records. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: There needs to be better e-communication between technologists and clinicians. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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