Despite federal incentives for the adoption of electronic health records, many physicians and hospital administrators have expressed concerns about implementing the systems, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Ungar, Louisville Courier-Journal, 4/17).
Health Care Providers' Concerns
Earlier this year, EHR vendor athenahealth and medical networking site Sermo released a survey finding that the number of physicians who think the financial benefits of EHR adoption offset the costs is about 7% lower this year compared with last year. The survey also found that 5% fewer physicians said they thought the patient care benefits of EHR adoption would outweigh the costs.
According to the survey, 60% of physicians said EHRs would slow down patient care, compared with 54% in 2010 (Van Sack, Boston Herald, 4/17).
In addition to barriers related to cost and patient care, some health care providers have expressed concern about:
- Lost productivity resulting from EHR training;
- The ability of staff to maintain EHRs;
- The possibility of systems becoming obsolete as technology changes (Louisville Courier-Journal, 4/17); and
- A lack of interoperable EHR systems (Boston Herald, 4/17).
Possible Digital Divide
Some experts are concerned about a growing technology gap between urban and rural health care providers, as well as between large and small physician practices. Experts say that certain health care providers are less likely to adopt EHRs, including:
- Busy rural physicians without high-speed Internet access;
- Older physicians who have used paper records for decades; and
- Small hospitals with fewer resources (Louisville Courier-Journal, 4/17).