Survey reveals many physicians remain unconvinced of medical informatics benefits

According to a new study published by medical informatics vendor Athenahealth and physician community Sermo, many clinicians remain skeptical of the long-term benefits of the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs).

The Physician Sentiment Index polled approximately 500 physicians from a range of specializations and practice areas. Results of the study indicate that increased regulatory compliance issues surrounding the use of medical informatics systems is interfering with clinicians’ ability to provide care for their patients. The economic viability of adoption of EHRs was also cited by many doctors as a primary area of concern.

“There is a lot of ‘stuff’ going on in healthcare that is making the noble pursuit of the MD degree a lot less attractive,” Jonathan Bush, chairman and chief executive officer of Athenahealth, told Healthcare IT News. “Government involvement, ill-designed EHRs and administrative complexities are encroaching on the sacred relationship between the physician and the patient and the ability for that doctor to be fully present at the point of care.”

Approximately 73 percent of physicians polled said medical informatics systems are a distraction to doctor-patient interaction, an increase of 12 percentage points from last year. An additional 36 percent said EHRs somewhat or significantly reduce the quality of care they are able to provide their patients.

Many physicians were pessimistic about the viability of small practices in light of increased regulatory compliance issues, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ meaningful use incentive program and the transition to accountable care organization business models.

Despite efforts by government agencies to encourage the adoption of pay-for-performance initiatives, participation in these programs remains low. However, despite the concerns outlined by the report, overall awareness of medical informatics technology remains high, and opinions regarding the technology’s potential are generally positive.

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