Is there an optimum period of EHR use needed before clinicians qualitatively perceive they are able to use their EHRs to improve patient care? This was a question that arose from early analysis of the AmericanEHR User satisfaction data collected from 2010 to 2012 and presented at the HIMSS13 conference in New Orleans. If this perception is correct, and it is possible to identify the performance measures that are present in practices that have a high level of satisfaction with their EHR’s ability to improve patient care, these factors may be very useful as a mechanism to accelerate the ability of EHR users to more effectively utilize their EHR systems in key areas.
Consider the following:
- 4,046 clinicians responded to the question, “How Satisfied or Dissatisfied are you with the Ability for your EHR to Improve Patient Care.”
- The sample was filtered by the duration of use of an EHR prior to completing the EHR satisfaction survey and data was sorted by use of less than 6 months, 6–12 months, 12–24 months, 3–5 years and more than 5 years.
- Data was presented based on a satisfaction scale from Very Dissatisfied to Very Satisfied and Do Not Know.
- 31.04% of respondents who had been using their EHR for more than 5 years reported being very satisfied with the ability of their EHR to improve patient care and 29.2% were satisfied.
- Similar, but less dramatic, data suggested that clinicians who have used EHRs for 3–5 years experience similar levels of satisfaction with the ability of their EHR to improve patient care.
- Not surprisingly, clinicians who have used EHRs for 6 months or less report the lowest levels of satisfaction with their EHRs.
Based upon this data, there appears to be a correlation between length of use of an EHR and the ability to improve patient care, especially in the 5+ years group. This could suggest that there is a minimum period of time that someone has to use an EHR before beginning to demonstrate improvements in patient care. While these findings are preliminary and will require much more rigorous analysis, the implications are significant in terms of features and processes that could be enhanced in order to accelerate effective use of EHRs.
In addition, if there is a minimum required period of EHR use needed before users are able to achieve improvements in patient care, could we just be too early in the Meaningful Use program to report on these findings? Are another 2–3 years needed before the much desired changes of the Meaningful Use program can be anticipated?
What are your thoughts on this hypothesis? Add your comments below.