Analysis of nationally representative survey data found that physicians who use electronic health records that meet Meaningful Use criteria were more likely to report that EHR functions were easy to use.
Researchers also reported in the American Journal of Managed Care that there was an association between higher reported ease of use and physicians who received technical support.
“The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 created incentives and provided technical assistance to spur widespread adoption of [EHRs] in the United States,” Michael F. Furukawa, PhD, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and colleagues wrote. “A key factor in physician acceptance of EHRs is the extent to which users perceive the technology to be easy to use and useful in enhancing patient care … Anecdotal reports suggest growing physician dissatisfaction with the usability of EHRs, and physician difficulties in using EHR systems may lead to unintended consequences such as new work and safety issues.”
Furukawa and colleagues analyzed the 2011 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey Physician Workflow study, which was conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, to assess physician attitudes in EHR adoption related to Meaningful Use. They reported that 5,232 physicians were sent the survey, and 3,180 responded. The final sample was 1,793 after limiting their respondents to those that used an EHR at their primary practice location.
The researchers used univariate descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regression analyses to assess the physicians who adopted EHR functions, physicians who reported high ease of use and variations in perceived ease of use.
Results showed that 76% of physicians reported that their EHRs met Meaningful Use criteria and 45% of physicians reported receiving technical assistance in evaluating work flow. Additionally, 75% of physicians reported adopting and using nine of the 14 EHR functions that the researchers analyzed.
At least 75% of physicians reported 10 of the 14 EHR functions were easy to use, including ordering, decision support, patient engagement, viewing results, clinical data exchange and documentation functions.
Furukawa and colleagues found that for 12 of the EHR functions, physicians who used EHRs that met Meaningful Use criteria had 56% to 196% higher odds of reporting that the function was easy to use. For eight of the EHR functions, physicians who received technical support had 55% to 174% higher odds of reporting that the function was easy to use.
For nine of the EHR functions, physicians who were in practices owned by an HMO or health care organization had 125% to 494% higher odds of reporting that the function was easy to use when compared with physicians who worked in a physician-owned practice.
“Among physicians with any EHR, we found that adoption of specific EHR functions related to [Meaningful Use] and perceived ease of use were generally high,” the researchers concluded. “Ease of use was significantly higher among physicians adopting EHRs that met [Meaningful Use] criteria. Perceived ease of use was higher among those receiving technical assistance from EHR vendors or [regional extension centers] for some, but not all, functionalities. More research to understand and improve EHR usability will be critical to ensuring HITECH goals are met.” – by Chelsea Frajerman Pardes
Disclosures: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.