Survey shows that EHRs have significantly improved

New survey shows EHRs have made major advancements

For the past few months, the health care industry has been working toward improving health IT, especially in terms of their data exchange capabilities. Many physicians have had trouble implementing successful interoperable health IT due to financial obstacles and other setbacks. However, recent research has found that physicians are seeing large improvements in this area as EHR adoption rates climb.

New survey finds health IT makes drastic improvements
A new survey performed by the NORC at the University of Chicago found that EHRs are drastically improving in several areas. Researchers looked at EHRs sold by 41 health IT vendors throughout six states – Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming – and found that they are making health information easy to transfer between providers. These enhancements have increased adoption rates in each of the communities that were examined.

Health professionals across the sector have demanded that health IT systems do more than simply aid providers in meeting the meaningful use standards and capturing data. They have begun looking for systems that have an impact on the underlying goal that most providers are actively seeking – the improvement of care delivery and patient outcomes through patient engagement and advanced tools like patient portals. This is especially true for specialty practices that require high-quality EHR systems designed around their day-to-day workflows and procedures. 

The survey also found that EHRs have a more user-friendly design that is attracting physicians and raising adoption rates. Two-thirds of the vendors involved in the survey reported that they develop systems with a user-centered design. According to FierceEMR, many experts within the industry had expected this number to be a lot lower. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT requires that systems have a UCD process in order to be considered officially certified. 

These recent findings prove that previous obstacles will continue fizzling out in years to come as health IT becomes more sophisticated. For example, a lack of tech-savvy staff members sometimes makes it hard for practices to successfully implement advanced technologies in a timely manner. Now that there are systems that are customized to meet provider needs and vendors that offer training assistance, setbacks during implementation will likely become less common.

How are vendors keeping up with the demands of providers?
In a webinar that discussed the recent survey and its findings, Ross Teague, Ph.D., senior manager of user experience at Allscripts, talked about how an increasing number of health IT systems are now more usable then they once were, according to FierceEMR. He mentioned EHRs specifically, explaining that they are now developed with usability in mind. Before aspects like interoperability can be achieved, EHRs have to be user-friendly or providers will not want to adopt them.

Vendors are making their products more usable with the expansion of research and development teams and cross-functional patient safety teams. Many vendors also offer support and high-quality customer service that ensures practices have help if they do run into issues while using their systems, especially as they learn how they work during implementation.

Moving forward, to continue the advancement of health IT, the ONC will be keeping a close eye on the development of EHRs to ensure that systems are useable and that they meet interoperability standards. Many industry organizations are hoping that providers will have access to more EHR technology that is effective at improving patient outcomes and care delivery and that lower-quality technology does not receive certification until it meets standards. Physicians also need to make sure that before they invest in an EHR system for their practices, they choose a vendor that sells high-quality systems, as successful EHRs have the ability to completely transform the industry and care delivery.