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While physician adoption of technology soars, cost is still an ever-looming concern, says a recent survey.
A whopping 93 percent of U.S. physicians reported actively using EHRs in Accenture’s annual technology survey, and half of docs said they regularly access data outside of their own organization.
The annual survey, conducted in November and December 2012, is based on 3,700 physicians across eight countries: Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain, and the United States. For the most part, results represent a positive shift in attitudes toward technology - especially in the United States.
U.S. doctors reported a 32 percent annual increase in the routine use of healthcare IT capabilities compared with an increase of 15 percent among doctors in the other countries surveyed.
The jump is not surprising in my mind,” Kaveh Safavi, an internal medicine physician and Accenture’s North American lead, told Physicians Practice. “The impetus behind the HITECH Act was to try to drive adoption. And you’re now beginning to see a year over year uptick. If they don’t participate, it has an economic implication. It freezes them out of certain network.”
While the majority of physicians have an EHR, implementation is often a barrier to true adoption. But the study seems to indicate physicians aren’t letting their EHRs collect dust. In fact, 78 percent of U.S. physicians told researchers they’re routinely entering notes into their EHRs, and 65 percent of U.S. physicians said they routinely prescribe drugs electronically.
“That’s actually a fairly high percentage of putting notes into an EHR,” said Safavi, adding that physicians input notes in a variety of ways, from dictating into an EHR to using drop-down menus to actually typing them in. “We’re substantially moving away from paper.”
Physicians are also exchanging information much more often this year: Sixty-two percent of U.S. physicians receive clinical results in their EHR system, a 24 percent increase from the prior year.
Still, all this great technology use doesn’t come free. U.S. doctors were the least likely (38 percent) to report that using EHRs and HIEs reduced their organization’s costs. Though CMS’ EHR Incentive Program offers $44,000 and up for physicians attesting they use EHRs in a meaningful way, U.S. physicians said that cost was the single greatest barrier to technology adoption.
“Cost is a big issue for physicians,” said Safavi. “And there’s always issues like privacy and security, and interference with work flow. For the most part, the single dominant reason physicians don’t implement EHRs appears to be the cost for implementation.”