Early adopters of electronic health records say they're satisfied

October 1, 2010

Learning curves aside, current users of electronic health record (EHR) systems appear satisfied with them.

National report - Learning curves aside, current users of electronic health record (EHR) systems appear satisfied with them.

"When we first went to the EHR, we anticipated dramatically slowing down our practice for months. It hasn't done that," says Scott Flugman, M.D., says of the system his Huntington, N.Y., practice installed 18 months ago.

In fact, "Our practice functions as well with EHRs as it did with charts," he says. Thanks to tablet PCs used in exam rooms, for example, "You don't have your back to the patient looking at a computer screen."

Because the package is dermatology-specific, "We can customize our phototherapy notes," he says, as well as referral notes and letters. "And the e-scripts save us a tremendous amount of time."

Vikas Patel, M.D., a Raleigh, N.C., solo practitioner, made sure to have an EHR system running from the day the practice opened in March 2009.

"Since I was starting a brand-new practice, and, knowing where medicine was going, it made sense to implement an EHR system from day one, instead of having to convert to it later," he says.

Dr. Patel says he and his staff are happy with the system. The product he chose impressed him with its flexibility and its vendor's customer support. Along with providing many dermatology-specific templates, it allows his practice to set up any templates wanted.

"It took six months to really get comfortable with (the system), and a full year to tweak it so that it's working optimally," he says. And at month 18, he adds, "We're still learning new things about it and figuring out new and different ways of doing things."

The American Medical Association says that between 22 and 34 percent of physicians in ambulatory settings currently use EHRs. According to a 2007 Medical Group Management Association member survey, more than three-quarters of current EHR users are either satisfied (49.6 percent) or extremely satisfied (26.7 percent) with them.