Are mainstream physicians a tougher audience?

As both Canada and the US move to aggressively to promote use and adoption of IT by family physicians in their offices, the most recent survey results from KLAS offers some cause for concern:

KLAS surveys end users to determine what they like and don’t like about IT systems that they have purchased.  These surveys offer unique insights as they are based on actual use of healthcare IT systems in real world settings.  According to Modern Healthcare article, the latest KLAS survey “shows a deterioration of customer-satisfaction scores across the board compared with the survey from the prior year“.   Of potential concern to government sponsored funding programs are the results for ambulatory EHRs (referred to as EMRs in Canada).  This category  had the lowest average satisfaction score of the 24 software categories covered by the KLAS survey.

KLAS President, Adam Gale, offers several explanations:

  • “That could mean that vendors are selling more and unable to fully staff the uptake.”
  • “The more enthusiastic and tolerant earlier adopters have already acquired and are already using EHRs. Users new to the technology are adopting now.”

Both explanations are distressing, though the suggestion that mainstream physicians  may not be happy with existing EMR products could seriously impact the aggressive targets for EMR use and adoption set by various EMR funding programs.

Is EMR software ready for those physicians who are not early adopters of technology? As Dr. Alan Brookstone notes on his blog:

there are other signs in the US that physicians do not feel that EMR software offers sufficient value to warrant the necessary investments.   I think that we must heed these early warning signs and take a closer look at how best to integrate IT into the clinical practice of family physicians so that our current round of funding is not seen as “wasted” in a future auditors report.


3 responses to “Are mainstream physicians a tougher audience?

  1. Mike,

    I wish I could say that I was surprised by this potential problem, but I’m not. I have seen a lot of EMR products in action, and I’ve had some serious misgiving about what I hear from sales and marketing, and the end result on screen. Most of the products work, but few offer a really intuitive UI and understanding of physician workflow. The mainstream doctor is a much different animal from the early adopter. Twice as demanding with half the IT knowledge. A potential recipe for disaster for many of the current state of the art EMR/ambulatory EHR products that I have seen.

    What scares me more than anything else, is the very real chance that a large bulk of mainstream physicians are going to purchase an EMR, but then leave it on the shelf gathering dust. A very scary proposition for healthcare systems looking for a return on investment.

    What is the solution?

    Is Open Source the answer?

    Does the industry need to consolidate to a smaller number of larger vendors with the resources to create a very good UI?

    Do we even have time?

    I wish I had some answers…


  2. I am concerned that provincial procurements and government specification of functionality (vs. data and interoperability standards) are hampering innovation and interfering with the physician / vendor relationship. I think that the part of the answer lies in letting the marketplace drive what they want / need and not government procurements.


  3. Further to this discussion, I came across some data from a survey conducted by CompTIA (the Computing Technology Industry Assocation entitled “CompTIA’s Healthcare IT Market: Insights and Opportunities”.

    Of the 300 healthcare providers who responded, 82% of those currently using electronic medical records (EMR) cite better patient care as a major factor in their decision to adopt the technology. Other factors include saving time/improving efficiency, rates almost identically (83%), compliance with regulations (57%) and cost savings (40%).

    My question is whether there actual experience is meeting their expectations or are they disappointed as some other data seems to suggest. Clearly providers have high expectations which may be fueled, as Mark suggestions, by vendor hype.


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