Switching EHRs may cause 'significant drop' in patient satisfaction levels, Mayo Clinic researchers say

Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic experienced significant drops in patient satisfaction when it switched from a Cerner EHR to an Epic system in 2017-18, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Researchers analyzed the EHR switch at six Mayo Clinic locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona and Florida, with three different go-live dates between July 2017 and October 2018.

Researchers tracked EHR patient satisfaction with access, care providers, moving through the visit, overall practice and personal issues. The team partnered with Press Ganey to create and issue a survey based on the patient satisfaction factors during in-person outpatient visits. Results of the survey showed that of the 24 patient satisfaction questions presented to patients at the six Mayo Clinic hospitals, all were negatively affected by the EHR transition.  

"If switching to a new EHR significantly reduces identifiable components of patient satisfaction, leaders need information on the anticipated extent and duration of these effects," the researchers wrote. "A significant change in patient satisfaction from an EHR switch could be an unintended major confounding factor that could interfere with analysis and interpretation of ongoing interventions aimed at improving patient satisfaction."

Patient satisfaction with access, such as the ability to be connected with a clinician over phone or scheduling appointments, was most affected. Across the six sites, patient satisfaction levels with access dropped between 3.4 percent and 8.8 percent. Patient satisfaction with providers was least affected by an EHR switch, dropping only 0.5 percent to 2.8 percent across the six sites.

Patient satisfaction with access took nine to 15 months to return to previous levels before the switch. Researchers concluded that in regards to the other satisfaction levels, including care providers, moving through the visit, overall practice and personal issues, it took anywhere from three months to almost 17 months before satisfaction was restored to previous levels.

Researchers wrote that the study presented various limitations, including patient satisfaction affected by known and unknown confounding events such as October of 2018 Hurricane Michael in Florida and an influenza outbreak in 2017-18 in Arizona. The team concluded that healthcare leaders should be aware of potential confounders associated with an EHR switch and "should consider changes in patient satisfaction associated with an EHR switch when looking at patient satisfaction on an institutional scale or at the individual provider level."

Click here to view the full report.

More articles on EHRs:
Allscripts ranked No. 1 integrated ambulatory EHR by Black Book
How many hospital beds Epic, Cerner, Meditech, Allscripts won & lost in 2019
Epic launches public health research network: 3 things to know 

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