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    Physicians' overall perceptions of EHR systems positive, according to two surveys

    Physicians' overall perceptions of electronic health record (EHR) systems are positive, according to two recent surveys that gauged physician usage and plans for the systems.

    EHR systems are perceived positively by physicians, but also as expensive to purchase and time-consuming to install and maintain related to the return on investment realized in efficiency, according to findings of a Physician Sentiment Index released by athenahealth, a provider of Internet-based business services to physician practices, and Sermo, an online community for physicians. The data are based on responses from 1,000 randomly selected respondents within the Sermo online community.

    Findings from respondents:

    • 80 percent have a favorable or very favorable opinion of EHR systems,

    • 80 percent believe that the use of EHR systems improves patient care, and

    • 73 percent agree the patient benefits of an EHR system justify the financial costs.

    However:

    • 90 percent agree or strongly agree that EHR systems are expensive to purchase,

    • 72 percent agree or strongly agree that having an EHR system still requires effort to stay on top of constantly changing payment requirements and incentives,

    • 81 percent agree or strongly agree that EHR systems are expensive to maintain and upgrade,

    • 60 percent agree or strongly agree with the statement that EHR systems distract from face-to-face interaction with patients,

    • 54 percent agree or strongly agree that EHR systems slow down the doctor during patient exams, and

    • Only slightly more than 50 percent of respondents said they believe EHR systems are designed with them in mind.

    Another survey, released by Accenture, a consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company, represents the views of 1,000 U.S. physicians from practices of fewer than 10 practitioners each. Approximately 15 percent of respondents were users of EHRs and 85 percent were non-users.

    Some of the key findings:

    • 58 percent of non-users said they intend to purchase an EHR system within the next two years,

    • About 80 percent of physicians younger than 55 years old plan to implement an EHR system within the next two years,

    • The key driver of EHR adoption is federal legislation, according to respondents; 61 percent cited federal penalties for non-adoption, and 51 percent cited federal incentives, and

    • Ninety percent of current EHR users said they believe that their EHR system has brought value to their practice, in particular "changing the way their practice works for the better" by providing an effective overview of patients' relevant history, records and information and by allowing quick and accurate data entry.

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