Study: More physicians adopting EHRs, but concerned about the future

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More doctors than ever are implementing electronic health records, even as they grouse about the profession and threaten to quit it.

That's the upshot of a new study released by medical malpractice insurer The Doctors Company, which surveyed more than 5,000 physicians. Almost a third (30 percent) of respondents have already implemented EHRs that meet the meaningful use criteria, and another 14 percent plan to implement EHRs in the next three years. The top five states that have implemented EHRs are Oregon (41 percent), Georgia (39 percent), Florida (37 percent), Washington (35 percent) and Virginia (34 percent).

However, the survey reports a less-than-rosy picture about physicians in general, who are frustrated and disheartened about the future of healthcare and their role in it.  Almost one-fifth (17 percent) have no plans to adopt EHRs at all, despite the promise of incentive payments and upcoming reimbursement penalties to be imposed on those who don't adopt them.

Perhaps more sobering is that 43 percent of the respondents are contemplating retiring within the next five years as a result of changes in the healthcare system, in part because the new requirements are too burdensome, despite the fact that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has said Stage 2 may expand the number of physicians who are exempt from MU and that the Stage 2 proposal has added flexibility.  

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has been pleased with the progress made in the adoption of health IT, with nearly 2,000 hospitals and more than 41,000 physicians receiving $3.1 billion in incentive payments thus far for meeting the Meaningful Use requirements.

But a corresponding shortage of physicians, perhaps spurred by the push to EHRs and other changes could create a "crisis," said Donald J. Palmisano, former president of the American Medical Association and member of The Doctors Company Board of Governors in an announcement.

To learn more:

- read The Doctors Company survey

- read  announcement

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