Health Care Survey Shows 17 Percent of Doctors Want to Switch EHR Apps

By Brian T. Horowitz  |  Print this article Print

Black Book Rankings' study of the health care industry shows that many physicians are unhappy with the EHR applications with which they work.

Up to 17 percent of health care professionals are looking to change their electronic health record platforms, according to the latest survey by Black Book Rankings, a marketing research firm.

The company suggests that 2013 will be "the year of the great EHR vendor switch." One in six medical practices may move to a different platform by the end of 2013, according to the survey released Feb. 18.

Health care professionals say their EHR applications aren't meeting their needs as far as system features, implementations, deliverables and client support, Black Book reported.

The firm polled nearly 17,000 active EHR users for the survey. Participants included physicians, clinicians and health care professionals at hospitals, clinics and in-patient surgery centers.

EHR software companies may be neglecting development issues as they focus on sales and backlogged implementations, Black Book reported.

In addition, one-size-fits-all EHR platforms have not met the needs of specialists, the survey revealed.

"The one-size-fits-all EHR isn't working for specialists and complex multispecialty groups," Doug Brown, a managing partner with Black Book, told eWEEK in an email.

Black Book's survey results match up with an August 2011 report by the IT committee of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which found that EHR applications lack support for measurements by eye doctors.

EHR users blame themselves for picking the wrong health record software, said Brown. Of health professionals interviewed, 79 said their practice did not adequately assess their needs before choosing their health-record application.

Data interoperability also played a role in EHR users' dissatisfaction with the software. Few vendors are making enough progress in enabling physician networks to share data, "and that frustrates early EHR adopters that their original vendor choice has not made innovative progress with interoperability," said Brown.

The priority list of EHR features for doctors includes document management, scanning and storage, electronic prescribing, order management, implementation support, system costs and alerts.

Doctors would also like to see better integration with practice management and revenue cycle management software. Vendors that do offer integration with EHRs and practice management apps include eClinicalWorks and GE Healthcare with its Centricity platform.

Decision support is another desired feature in EHR applications, said Brown.

Cloud computing could be leading EHR vendors to change, according to the Black Book survey. Of respondents either considering or planning to change EHR vendors in the next year, 51 percent said they were targeting Web-based, application-service-provider or software as a service EHR (SaaS) platforms.

"The affordability of cloud services is persuading physician office users to make a change," said Brown.

Still, a lack of funds may delay this switch for almost 20 percent of respondents, and 8 percent have ruled out a change due to this cost, even if it's a cloud or Web-based system, said Brown.

Support for mobile platforms will be a factor in which platforms doctors choose, according to Brown.

In fact, 75 percent of users looking to replace their EHR systems demand vendor integration with mobile device platforms, said Brown.

Compatibility with iOS and Android devices are "EHR must-haves," he said, and are "higher in priority than connectivity and more important to physicians than patient access and clinical analytics combined."

Black Book conducted follow-up interviews with 550 respondents who had complaints about their EHR platforms. When choosing another EHR vendor, 32 percent said mergers or acquisitions in that company would be problematic and 26 percent cited senior management disarray as a concern.

Originally published on www.eweek.com.
Brian T. Horowitz is a freelance technology and health writer as well as a copy editor. Brian has worked on the tech beat since 1996 and covered health care IT and rugged mobile computing for eWEEK since 2010. He has contributed to more than 20 publications, including Computer Shopper, Fast Company, FOXNews.com, More, NYSE Magazine, Parents, ScientificAmerican.com, USA Weekend and Womansday.com, as well as other consumer and trade publications. Brian holds a B.A. from Hofstra University in New York.

Follow him on Twitter: @bthorowitz