Survey: Physician owners more likely to find EHR implementation difficult

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Practice management - 87.92 Kb

Physicians with an ownership stake in their practices were more likely than other physicians to think of EHR implementation as difficult or very difficult, according to the results of pre- and post-implementation surveys of physicians published Jan. 16 in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

“Because ownership is generally associated with greater levels of responsibility for day-to-day practice operations and management, these physicians probably experienced more underlying challenges associated with EHR implementation and workflow transformation,” wrote Marshall Fleurant, MD, of Boston University Medical School and Boston Medical Center, and colleagues.

“Physician owners probably bear financial risk for failure of implementation out of proportion to payors or publicly funded health plans who benefit from patient safety and quality but not as directed from physician efficiency or revenue cycle management,” the writers continued.

Researchers surveyed physicians in three Massachusetts communities who were participating in a pilot program conducted by the Massachachusetts eHealth Collaborative, a Waltham, Mass.-based nonprofit that encourages greater health IT utilization. Responses from 156 physicians who completed a pre-implementation survey in 2005 and a post-implementation survey in 2009 were included in the researchers’ final analysis.

Overall, 35 percent of physicians reported that implementation was very difficult, 54 percent reported that it was somewhat difficult and 12 percent reported that it was not difficult. Broken down, 27 percent of non-owners reported that implementation was very difficult and 38 percent of owners, defined as individuals with full or partial ownership stakes in their practices, reported that it was very difficult. 

Additionally, the survey’s results showed that physicians who believed that their practice’s staff were “innovative” were less likely to believe that implementation was difficult; 68 percent of respondents believed their practice had limited or no resources compared to the 18 percent who believed their practice had extensive or moderate resources.

Based on the survey’s results, researchers suggested that organizations and governments seeking expanded health IT utilization should focus on the needs of physician owners and recognize the importance of non-physician employees’ role in implementation.

“These physician owners may need not only financial support but also training and expert consultation to bolster the implementation process,” Fleurant et al concluded.