Oct. 20, 2016
These days, most
physicians bring more than a stethoscope to a patient visit. A newly released Texas
Medical Association (TMA) survey of the state’s physicians shows nearly three-quarters of them are using an electronic health
record (EHR) to capture your health information.
Seventy-four percent of
physicians report using an EHR, according to the 2016 TMA
Physician Survey. The number of EHR-using Texas doctors has steadily
increased since 2009, when only half of physicians reported using one — the
electronic version of the old paper charts.
certainly show physicians’ attitudes about EHRs are changing,” said Matthew
Murray, MD, chair of TMA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Health Information Technology
(HIT). “Rather than seeing EHRs as inevitable, they are recognizing the actual
and potential value.”
TMA asked more than 38,000
physicians earlier this year for their experiences and opinions about HIT. The
survey serves as a benchmark of how physicians use their EHRs and what they
need to make them more effective.
Only 20 percent of physicians
say they have no plans to implement an EHR, according to the
survey. That number has remained steady since 2009. The primary reasons
physicians aren’t universally adopting EHRs are cost and because they are
But electronic record-keeping
might keep some patients safer.
Eight in ten physicians (81 percent)
say they use their EHR to prescribe medications. Physicians mentioned these
pluses: built-in alerts for drug interactions, less errors from poor
handwriting, decreased duplicate or over prescribing, and enhanced record-keeping.
Dr. Murray, a Fort Worth
pediatric emergency physician, said he appreciates that as a physician and patient.
E-prescribing is faster and more accurate for physicians, he said. As a
patient, Dr. Murray said he prefers to make only one trip to the pharmacy to
pick up a prescription, rather than having to drop off a paper copy and wait or
return later to pick it up.
Physician respondents said EHRs
allow them to access records from any location, which is particularly helpful when
they are on call; provide patient histories when the patient is unable to
provide that information, such as in an emergency; and read, store, and
retrieve notes more easily.
Despite their advantages, EHRs
have room for improvement. Physicians report frustration that the EHR distracts
from patient care. Because they are spending time entering data in the EHR,
physicians have less personal interaction with the patient that aids in
- A lot
of data is being collected, but work is needed to use it to improve
- An EHR
system can be time-consuming and difficult to use; and
EHRs don’t allow for shared data with another system, leaving a patient’s
medical information fragmented.
Dr. Murray said he sees that in
his own family’s records. Information from each family member is stored on
different patient portals, he said, and it is complex to keep up with the IDs
and passwords to access each one. Dr. Murray said he urges more focus on
developing the systems and processes that will allow patients easy access to
their own medical information and to their children’s information.
“I believe 100 percent of
physicians will want to use an EHR when they are easy to use and they provide
the ability to send and receive patient data between physicians without extra
effort required by the physician,” said Dr. Murray.
TMA conducts physician surveys to
identify emerging issues, track the impact of practice and economic changes,
and assess physician priorities.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation,
representing more than 49,000 physician and medical student members. It is
located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the
state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.
TMA Foundation raises funds to support the public health and science priority
initiatives of TMA and the Family of Medicine.
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Contact: Brent Annear (512) 370-1381;
cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear[at]texmed[dot]org
Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 650-5336; email: marcus.cooper[at]texmed[dot]org
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