EHR Software UserView:
Early Results

In collaboration with leading digital data collection company Research Now, Software Advice is currently conducting its EHR Software UserView survey. The survey polls users of electronic health records (EHR) software, asking questions about which EHR system they use, how satisfied they are with it and its key benefits and challenges. Aggregated survey results are displayed in real time.

The survey is ongoing; however, as we approach the 400-respondents mark, we wanted to publish a snapshot of the results so far.

Key Findings:

  1. Thirty-five percent of EHR users are investing more in patient portals in 2014 than they did in 2013.
  2. Over one-third of EHR users access their systems on tablets; 20 percent use smartphones to access EHRs.
  3. Slowed user productivity and poor integration with other systems are the key challenges cited by EHR users.

EHR Users Are Investing in Patient Portals

We presented respondents with a number of EHR-related modules and asked them how their level of investment in those areas will change this year.

2014 Investment Plans

Patient portals lead the pack as the category in which a plurality of EHR users are investing in 2014. Thirty-five percent of EHR users plan to invest more in patient portals in 2014 than they did in 2013.

One-Third of Respondents Access EHRs Mobilely

Perhaps unsurprisingly, desktop computers are still the dominant means for accessing EHR systems. Eighty-three percent of respondents use their EHRs on a desktop computer at least occasionally. This means, though, that a full 17 percent of respondents exclusively use portable or mobile devices (such as laptops, tablets or smartphones) to access their systems.

Note that respondents were asked to select all channels of EHR access, and many selected more than one—thus, the percentages reported sum to greater than 100 percent.

Devices Used to Access EHRs

Nearly 70 percent of users access their EHR via laptop. And over one-third (35 percent) use tablets to access their EHR systems. Smartphone usage lags behind tablet use, but nearly one-quarter of respondents (20 percent) report using their smartphones to tap into their EHR systems.

Ease of Access and Record Legibility Are Key Benefits

We asked respondents to rate how well their EHR delivers on a list of key benefits often touted by the government, EHR vendors and other EHR proponents. At the top of the list of user-reported benefits, 87 percent of users say their EHR offers easy access to records, while 86 percent say EHRs offer more legible and/or robust records.

How Well EHR Delivers on Key Benefits

Seventy-nine percent of users say their EHR delivers drug interaction alerts “well” or “very well,” and another 79 percent say their EHR delivers accurate, profitable billing either “well” or “very well.” In fact, all told, more than half of all respondents indicate that their EHR delivers every benefit we listed “well” or “very well.”

Slowed Productivity and Poor Integration Are Key Challenges

Similarly, we presented respondents with a list of common challenges of EHR use. The greatest challenges on the list are slowed productivity (with 51 percent of users reporting this as a “major” or “moderate challenge”) and integration with other systems (55 percent of respondents). Note that slowed productivity appears higher on the list than integration because more people rated it a major challenge.

Slowed productivity is an interesting complaint for software users, since most of the buyers we talk to are seeking software to improve organization and efficiency—yet it is a common one in the medical market, especially during the early stages of implementation. Even doctors who acknowledge their EHR makes their operations more efficient overall initially complain of individual visits taking longer to chart, as they learn a new system and phase out their traditional paper approach.

Top 10 Challenges Faced by EHR Users

Other key challenges include customizing the system, importing existing records (i.e., data migration) and learning to use the system, each of which are rated as “major” or “moderate” challenges by right around 50 percent of respondents.

Achieving meaningful use is only rated a “moderate challenge” by 30 percent of users, and a “major challenge” by just 9 percent. This is somewhat surprising, in light of the press given to meaningful use and its resulting complications.

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.

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.

McKesson, IOS Among Highest in Customer Satisfaction

Our survey respondents are currently ranking McKesson-owned products highest in terms of user satisfaction. Interestingly, however, the products ranked most highly are those without McKesson’s branding: Medisoft and Lytec, owned by but not branded as McKesson, both boast 100 percent satisfaction ratings (over, for example, McKesson’s own branded Practice Choice and Practice Partner products, which didn’t make it into the top 10).

IOS customers are also rating their products highly: Medios currently enjoys a 100 percent satisfaction rating among its users who have participated in our survey.

Top 10 Vendors by User Satisfaction

Amazing Charts, AllMeds, Practice Fusion, ChartLogic, eClinicalWorks, gMed and e-MDs round out the rest of the top 10 vendors in terms of user satisfaction. However, it’s worth noting that 72 percent of all respondents indicated they were either “very” or “somewhat satisfied” with their EHR systems, which means there are several other vendors out there with highly satisfied users.

User Demographics

The respondents to our survey so far represent a variety of medical practice types and sizes. Nearly half of the sample are small practices (with three doctors or fewer). An additional 26 percent are medium-sized practices (between four and 10 doctors), and 27 percent are large practices (11 doctors or more).

Demographics: EHR Users by Practice Size

Primary care and internal medicine are the most commonly reported medical specialties, accounting for 10 percent of the sample each. However, the large variety of specialties means 41 percent of the sample belongs to a specialty not listed in the top 10 (comprising the “Other” category).

Demographics: EHR Users by Practice Type

Methodology

To collect responses for this survey, we used several approaches. We emailed survey invitations to EHR software buyers who contacted Software Advice for guidance in their software selection process. We also posted the survey on social networking sites, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus.

Additionally, we contacted EHR software vendors and asked them to share the survey with their users. These included vendors Software Advice has an established relationship with, as well as those we don't. Finally, the majority of the responses to the survey were obtained by our third-party research partner, Research Now.

Stay tuned for the full report once we’ve completed data collection for this round of our UserView survey. In the meantime, to discuss the results so far or gain access to any of these charts, contact me at melissa@softwareadvice.com. You can check out the results in real-time any time by visiting the survey page and clicking on the “Results” tab. And of course, if you use an EHR, please take the survey, too!


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