Last month we conducted a survey about the advantages of using electronic medical records (EMRs) and electronic health records (EHRs). We asked healthcare providers to assign a 1 to 5 rating to 20 common benefits of EMR software. A rating of 1 means “I highly disagree” or “I have not experienced this benefit.” A rating of five means “I highly agree” or “I have experienced this benefit.” For our purposes, we’ll consider 1 and 2 to be negative, 3 neutral, with 4 and 5 considered positive.,
We received 50 responses to our poll. A modest sample size compared to the more than 2,300 providers that recently attested to Meaningful Use. However, we were able to glean key insights from the results. But before digging in, let’s take a look at the EMRs evaluated in our survey.
The Most Frequently Used EMRs
The first question we asked participants was, “what EMR are you using?” We got a wide range of answers from Medinformatix to Epic to Practice Fusion. Here, we highlight the most cited benefits of five widely used systems.
Allscripts EHR users cited many productivity and financial benefits in our survey. The top benefits were: improves collection rates; reduces paperwork and space requirements; reduces administrative staff and expenses. Users also cited “improves delivery of preventative care” and “more accurate patient information” as the top quality-of-care improvements.
“Reduces transcription costs” was the top benefit listed by eClinicalWorks users. Greater legibility of notes, reduces paperwork and improves collection rates were second, third and fourth.
GE Centricity had very high ratings in our survey. Greater legibility of notes, greater accessibility of charts and enhanced clinical documentation all received high marks. “More accurate patient information” and “improved coordination of treatment by more than one provider" were also highly ranked benefits.
Greenway PrimeSUITE users assigned very high ratings to greater accessibility of charts, greater legibility of notes and fewer medical errors/improves patient safety. Greenway’s support for mobile devices and their unique iPhone and iPad apps likely bolstered their “accessibility” rating.
Rounding out the top five, NextGen users listed “reduced transcription costs,” “improved coordination of treatment by more than one provider” and “improved accuracy of coding” as the top benefits.
Top Benefits of Electronic Medical Records
Now on to what we’ve all been waiting for. Here are the top electronic medical record benefits in descending order.
As you can see, “Greater accessibility of charts, inside and outside the office,” is the number one benefit of EMRs according to survey participants. The proliferation of web-based EMRs and mobile apps is likely one factor responsible for this high rating. In second place we have “greater legibility of notes.” Given physicians’ notoriously bad handwriting (according to popular opinion), we weren’t surprised by this result.
Third place was a tie between “more accurate and up-to-date patient information” and “improved coordination of treatment by more than one healthcare provider.” We’re pleased this last point made it into our top benefits list. This is one of the original objectives of the HITECH Act.
While these benefits didn’t score as high as others, a majority of participants agreed with or said they have experienced these benefits.
The verdict is out. Providers were basically 50/50 on these benefits. Some responded positively; others responded negatively.
In addition to all of the above, we asked survey participants to share other benefits not listed in our survey. Here are some of the responses we received:
- "The ability to use data to run statistical measures and reports about the patients seen each month, and their progress."
- "I can ALWAYS find the chart!"
- "Ease of patient care. No longer trying to read chicken scratch. Can easily look up previous labs and watch trends."
- "Moves health care forward."
- "Provides option to video conference with my patients and save the video as a visit."
- "Web access reduces cost dramatically, as well as availability of data away from the office."
- "Excellent for providing teaching opportunities to residents and students, and for showing interventions and outcomes in conference."
I learned how to type.
Please leave us a comment if you’d like to share other anecdotes about EMR advantages.