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    EHR users investing more in patient portals, mobile access

    Meaningful use not a major practice challenge, survey says

    Though practitioners are still having productivity complications with their electronic health record (EHR) systems, they continue to invest in them so that they work more efficiently for staff and patients.

    Thirty-five percent of EHR users say they are investing more money in patient portals in 2014, according to the initial findings of an ongoing survey by Software Advice, a consulting firm. Respondents report that they will be investing more resources in patient portals than any other EHR application, including e-prescribing, lab integration and health information exchanges.

    Also, more EHR users are using mobile devices including tablets and smartphones to access records. More than 80% of users access their EHR systems through desktop computers, almost 70% of users access their EHR system using a laptop, 35% use tablets, and 20% use smartphones (respondents were able to choose more than one option.) A growing percentage (17%) use mobile and portable devices exclusively to use their systems.

    More than half of EHR users surveyed said that reduced productivity was a major or moderate challenge. Integrating their EHR systems with other systems was reported as a major or moderate challenge by 55% of users. Though meeting meaningful use requirements has been a big debate, only 9% of survey respondents see it as a major challenge, and 30% see it as a moderate challenge.

    “One possible explanation is that the challenges users associate with meaningful use have more to do with staff preparedness and executing requirements with patients than with the actual software itself. Without an EHR, meaningful use couldn’t be achieved at all, and it’s possible respondents are thinking of the question in those terms,” the study’s authors say.

    The vast majority of EHR users said that their system gave them easy access to records (87%), and offered more legible and robust records (86%).

    “Overall, respondents rated challenges less highly than they did benefits—in other words, a greater percentage of people said their EHRs delivered on key benefits ‘well’ or ‘very well’ than said their EHRs presented challenges to a ‘major’ or ‘moderate’ degree,” say the study’s authors.

    Almost half of the respondents surveyed are from practices with three or fewer physicians. Twenty six percent are from practices with four to 10 physicians, and 27% are from practices with 11 or more physicians.

    Software Advice plans to continue to survey EHR users throughout the year on their usage and satisfaction, and will publish results as they are aggregated in real time on their website.

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