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Pundits have always been quick to label the health care industry as slow to adopt new technologies and physicians in particular as averse to change. But a new survey by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Center for Research in Englewood, CO and Pfizer Health Solutions found that — at least when it comes to using electronic medical records (EMRs) — that’s not true at all.
Some 593 respondents to the survey provided information on their use of EMRs, what they saw as barriers to implementation, and what they viewed as some of the benefits. According to MGMA president and CEO William Jessee, MD, CMPE, health care isn’t as afraid as it is often portrayed to be. "These results show an exciting paradigm shift in the health care industry. It is realizing the importance of technology and is embracing it to improve productivity and patient satisfaction."
Among the survey results:
• 21.6% of health care organizations have already implemented an EMR system, and most of the rest (67.9%) are considering it. Growth in business is one of the reasons spurring this adoption. According to the survey, many groups view EMRs as a way to improve efficiency and quality of care delivery.
• 91.4% of respondents believe that computer automation in general can help address some or all of a list of 19 problems they commonly face — the most serious of which are insurance bureaucracy and reimbursement rates. Others on the list include increasing workloads, regulatory and HIPAA compliance, and availability and completeness of patient charts. Just over four-fifths of respondents believe that implementation of an EMR can specifically help address the problems they identified.
• 29.6% say that since they implemented EMRs they have more free time after hours.
• 50.4% of the respondents report increased provider satisfaction, and 31% say that since they implemented the EMR, patient satisfaction has also increased.
• Among those who have not yet implemented EMRs (464 respondents), 14% say they will do so in the next six months, 16.4% in six to 12 months, and 31.7% in 13 to 24 months.
The survey also asked the 128 respondents who use EMRs what makes for a successful implementation. Almost all (80.5%) reported that getting active staff involvement was vital. Other key elements of implementing such a program include active leadership and provider involvement, and making sure vendors provide on-site training.
Among the biggest barriers to implementation, respondents said that the number one obstacle was a lack of resources to invest in information technology. Other issues included the time and effort it takes to prepare the organization for an EMR system, difficulty integrating systems, difficulty establishing a good return on investment, and a lack of provider support. The complete survey can be viewed at http://ftp.mgma.com.