HealthMost US doctors are more proficient using electronic medical records (EMR) than they were two years ago, but fewer believe that EMR has improved treatment decisions, reduced medical errors or improved health outcomes.

Results of a new survey by Accenture also found that healthcare IT use among doctors has averaged double-digit growth, since Accenture conducted a similar survey in 2012. However, only 46 percent in 2015 (compared to 62 percent in 2012) believed that EMR improved treatment decisions, only 64 percent (compared to 72 percent in 2012) said it reduced medical errors, and only 46 percent (compared to 58 percent) said it improved health outcomes for patients.

The US findings, part of a six-country survey of more than 2,600 physicians, including roughly 600 in the United States.

“Despite the rapid uptake of electronic medical records, the industry is facing the reality that digital records alone are not sufficient to driving better, more-efficient care in the long-term,” said Kaveh Safavi, M.D., J.D., who leads Accenture’s global health business.

“The findings underscore the importance of adopting both technology and new care processes, as some leading health systems have already done, while ensuring that existing shortcomings in patient care are not further magnified by digitalization. The U.S. healthcare market has made remarkable progress in EMR adoption, and we believe that as the technology evolves, so too will the benefits to physicians and patient care,” he added.

The number of U.S. doctors who routinely use digital tools, such as secure e-mail, for communicating with patients has more than doubled since the last survey, to 30 percent, versus just 13 percent in 2012.

The five IT capabilities that US doctors use the most are: Entering patient notes electronically (82 percent); prescribing drugs electronically (72 percent); receiving clinical results directly into a patient’s EMR (65 percent); using electronic administration tools (63 percent); and sending e-order requests to laboratories (62 percent).

However, despite US doctors’ increased use of technology, more than two-thirds (70 percent) of them believe that healthcare IT has decreased the amount of time they spend with patients.

About three-fourths (76 percent) of those surveyed believe that interoperability of the tools currently available limits their ability to improve the quality of patient care through healthcare IT.

Although nearly all US doctors (90 percent) said that better functionality and easy-to-use data-entry systems are important for improving the quality of patient care through healthcare IT, more than half (58 percent) said that the electronic health record system in their organization is hard to use.


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