Compared to five years ago, more physicians are reporting being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their electronic health record (EHR) system, according to a new report from AmericanEHR Partners and the American Medical Association (AMA) based on a survey of physicians.

The survey on Physician Use of EHR Systems 2014 found that close to, or more than half of all respondents, reported a negative impact in response to questions about how their EHR system improved costs, efficiency, or productivity.

The questions on the impact of EHR systems on practice found that:

  • 42% thought their EHR system’s ability to improve efficiency was difficult or very difficult.
  • 72% thought their EHR system’s ability to decrease workload was difficult or very difficult.
  • 54% found their EHR system increased their total operating costs.
  • 43% said they had yet to overcome the productivity challenges related to their EHR system.

“While EHR systems have the promise of improving patient care and practice efficiency, we are not yet seeing those effects” said Shari Erickson, MPH, Vice President of the American College of Physicians (ACP) Division of Governmental Affairs and Medical Practice. “We need to focus on figuring out how we can help physicians and practices to more effectively implement and use these systems.”

In a similar survey conducted by AmericanEHR five years ago the majority of respondents said that overall they were satisfied or very satisfied with their EHR system; with 39% being satisfied and 22% being very satisfied. In the current survey the majority of respondents indicated that overall they were dissatisfied with their EHR system; with only 22% indicating they were satisfied and 12% indicating they were very satisfied.

The report found that primary care physicians were more likely than specialists to report satisfaction with various aspects of the EHR system and to indicate a positive impact on practice. The report suggested that the difference could be explained by the longer period of time, on average, that primary care physicians had used their EHR systems compared to specialists. Among survey respondents primary care physicians had used their EHR systems for a year longer than specialists, on average. They found that in most cases, it appeared to take at least three years for respondents to overcome initial challenges and to derive many of the benefits the their EHR system may have to offer.

“Perhaps we are getting over the curve in EHR adoption,” continued Erickson. “It may be that as we see more practices that have been using these systems longer we will see satisfaction begin to rise.”