Why do some physicians still not use EHRs?

While not all electronic health record software relies on user-friendly interfaces, a portion of physicians still use this as an excuse for adoption. In the Medscape EHR Report 2014, 16 percent of those surveyed think that EHRs are too complicated for themselves and their staff to learn. A more common reason for not using an EHR is that the doctors plan to retire soon and do not plan on being in the industry long enough to use the systems, which 21 percent stated. Physicians are being given more opportunities and benefits than ever before to adopt EHRs sooner rather than later, yet some still will not make the switch.

Why not?
​EHR programs are becoming the norm, and medicine is decidedly becoming more focused on technology to provide solutions. To not adopt a system because of the difficulty seems like a half-hearted response from people who spent a decade participating in higher education. The benefits are shown to range from data collection and analysis to better quality of patient care, but some physicians do not want to take the time to learn or spend the money to implement EHR systems.

Jonathan Everett, health information technology professional, has a different theory, which he stated in an InformationWeek commentary. He said that the same doctors who did not complete paper charts are the same who refuse to finish EHR charts. These physicians already have a negative perception of EHRs, and, like most cases, those who disagree speak the most and the loudest.

Educational opportunities
Schools are being created specifically for physicians that see the imminent changes in the health industry, according to InformationWeek. Texas A&M Health Science Center, which operates on seven campuses, designed curricula that will teach physicians how to use the latest health care technologies. The classes also help teach change management, governance, compliance and security.

"We've noticed that technology is rapidly changing and seems to be well ahead of where physicians are in most cases," Paul Ogden, M.D., interim dean of medicine and interim vice president for clinical affairs at TAMHSC, told InformationWeek. "Physicians are busy trying to maintain a clinical practice, are usually dealing with outdated technology, and have very little time to update it, or improve technology to improve patient care and make their practice more efficient. It's an area that needed innovation and education."

Increasing prevalence of EHRs
The Medscape EHR Report 2014 found that 81 percent of physicians considered their EHR software to become easier to use over time. By accessing better training, perhaps the fear of change will be mitigated along with concerns. With ICD-10 incoming, learning how to use and take advantage of EHRs will keep clinics open. Patients, especially generations familiar with technology, will not want to go to a doctor that rejects the notion of a changing industry or those that cannot be bothered to provide better care.

"All physicians should be on EHR in the next five years," Ogden told InformationWeek. "I see physicians working with tablets and smartphones. They're using apps on their phones to monitor patients to track disease."

The physicians who believe the adoption of an EHR system can be difficult should search for a program that works for them. There is no reason to purchase a system that a doctor is uncomfortable with using. If one EHR program is expensive, look for another. Is the interface difficult to use? Look for a system that is more user-friendly. EHR vendors train clinical staff, after installing the programs and provide support for users. Physicians who are hesitant will be better off trying to implement EHRs sooner than later.