93% of doctors reported actively using electronic medical records (EMR) in an annual survey by Accenture. 3,700 physicians in eight countries: Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the United States were part of the group surveyed. Health information exchanges are also gaining in popularity, with 45% of respondents noting that they regularly access clinical data outside their own organization an increase of some 32% over last year.
According to data in the survey, 32% of US doctors said that health information technology has increased their productivity. This is notable, because only 15% of doctors in other countries said the same thing. Most significantly, U.S. doctors reported the highest routine use of two IT capabilities: e-prescribing (65%) and entering patient notes into electronic medical records (78%), an increase of 34% combined over last year.
U.S. physicians also have adopted healthcare IT for basic clinical tasks, such as receiving alerts while seeing patients. 45% of physicians get alerts while seeing patients. More than half (57%) of US doctors also said they are using electronic lab orders – an increase of 21% over last year. Their international cohorts, however, saw a decline in the use of this service by 6%.
62% of US doctors also receive their clinical results, such as lab tests, directly into their EMR system, a practice which has increased by 24% since the last survey. Over half of doctors worldwide receive their clinical results on EMR systems.
The cost of implementing EMR and HIE systems still remains a significant barrier, especially in the US. 38% of US doctors said that health IT offered little cost savings, although over 70% of doctors in the survey said that EMR and HIE reduced medical errors and improved their workflow overall.
As CivSource has reported, many health IT vendors are rushing to grab sweeping patents over their technologies which will keep prices high and may limit new vendors from innovating in the space. This may have a chilling effect on some of the aspirations outlined in federal health IT directives which are meant to control the ever increasing costs of health care in the US. States have already posted double digit increases in their use of electronic medical records. Even without cost savings, however, reductions in errors and improvements in productivity may add a slight boost to cost efficiency throughout health care organizations.
“U.S. doctors are increasingly embracing EMR and HIE, which enables virtual integration outside a single medical office,” said Mark Knickrehm, Accenture’s global managing director who leads the company’s health business. “This growing trend strongly supports a patient-centered approach to care and reinforces the progress physicians are making as they prepare to meet the Meaningful Use guidelines required by the Affordable Care Act.”