6 findings on EHR ease of use for office-based physicians

For office-based physicians, attitudes regarding EHR adoption and perceived ease of use tended to be generally positive, according to a study in the American Journal of Managed Care.

Researchers used the 2011 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey Physician Workflow study to analyze office-based physicians' attitudes and experiences with EHRs. They looked at 14 EHR functions linked to meaningful use stage 1 or stage 12.

Here are six key findings from the study.

1. Overall, 76 percent of physicians said their EHR met meaningful use criteria.

2. Forty-five percent of physicians using EHRs said they received technical assistance from EHR vendors or regional extension centers to analyze practice work flow. Twenty-two percent of physicians with any EHR reported receiving at least 41 hours in clinical staff training to implement their system.

3. However, researchers indicate the amount of clinical staff training had little association with the perceived ease of use. For example, there was no apparent or perceived ease of use for EHR functions between physicians who received zero to eight clinical training hours and physicians who received nine to 40 clinical training hours. Additionally, physicians who received training for at least 41 hours had lower odds of reporting EHR function was easy to use for four functions: viewing imaging reports, recording clinical notes, providing patients with clinical summaries and recording problem lists.

4. Three-quarters of EHR adopters reported using at least nine of the 14 EHR functions examined in the study. And, 75 percent of EHR adopters said 10 of the 14 examined EHR functions were easy to use, including functions related to documentation, ordering, viewing results, decision support, patient engagement and clinical data exchange.

5. The rate of EHR adopters who said public health reporting was easy to use was the lowest, at 49 percent. The rate who said viewing laboratory results was easy to use was the highest, at 91 percent.

6. Researchers suggest more commonly adopted EHR functions were deemed easier to use than less commonly adopted functions. For example, less commonly used functions that received high marks related to ease of use were viewing data on quality measures (63 percent), secure messaging with patients (68 percent) and reminders based on guidelines (69 percent). Researchers indicate these percentages are relatively low.

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