3 of 4 Physicians Say Government-Sponsored EHRs Not Worth the Cost

Mitch Morris, MD, of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions discusses the results of the firm’s latest survey of U.S. physicians:

Three out of four physicians surveyed report that EHRs increase costs and do not save them time. This survey is not alone in its findings: Through another recently released survey, Clem McDonald and colleagues found that physicians say that EHRs “waste an average of 48 minutes per day.”

But those of us working with hospitals and physicians on a regular basis don’t need a survey to tell us things are not quite right. Just look at the rapidly growing profession of scribes — people who follow around doctors taking down their observations for recording in an EHR. Meaningful Use? Really?

So how did we get to the point where, despite an inspiring vision; prodigious investments of time and money; advances in computational and interface abilities; and more than 900 exhibitors each year at the Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) conference, many in the physician community still believe we have relatively little to show in the way of a true value-add?

Maybe it’s because the government has spent almost $30 billion inducing physicians and hospitals to install EHRs that satisfy the government’s needs, instead of the needs of patients or providers. I suspect the benefits of EHRs would have advanced much farther if the government had not subsidized the enterprise at all.

Comments (2)

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  1. Herbert W says:

    EHRs and other initiatives in Health IT have been around too long to not have true added value. Hopefully there are still some observed benefits in the form of synergies and raw material saved.

  2. Gabriel Odom says:

    That is a woefully one-sided analysis. The EHR isn’t to save the doctor’s time – but everyone else’s.

    This is not hyperbole: this very morning a good friend suffering from severe abdominal pain went to an urgent care center in my city. She spent around 30 minutes checking in to the clinic. They took down pages and pages of information on her medical and surgical history, allergies, insurance, primary care doctor, family medical history, current medications, pregnancy status, and a host of vital signs. They then hooked up her IV and gave her medicine. Some time later, the doctor assessed that she needed her appendix out – and fast. They couldn’t perform surgery at this small center, so we had to drive her across town to the major surgery center. We were given a giant stack of papers to take with us: all the medical documentation associated with her morning visit.

    A few minutes later, my friend still in severe pain, we arrive at the hospital. Can we go immediately to the preoperative wing? No, of course not. We have to spend ANOTHER HOUR waiting while a hurried team of nurses and registration staff painstakingly copy every single line of information into their computer system. Why? Because the urgent care center at which we began our morning didn’t use EMR documentation. If they had, all that information would have be electronically transferred over – saving a full hour of my friend’s pain.

    EMR’s aren’t for doctors. They are for us, and they work.