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Physicians Frustrated as Health Care IT Advances



March 12, 2009 By

More physician leaders are embracing technological advances, such as electronic medical records, but most still consider them clunky and unresponsive to their needs. Those are the results found in a recent survey by the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE). About 1,000 ACPE members responded to the 2009 survey.The findings were published in the March/April issue of the Physician Executive Journal, ACPE's journal of medical management.

ACPE conducted the same survey back in 2004. Five years later, there were some surprising findings:

  • More than 64 percent of respondents said they used electronic medical records, up from 33 percent in 2004
  • About 44 percent said their organization uses computerized order entry, while only about 33 percent used CPOE five years ago.
  • More than 38 percent said they used pharmaceutical bar coding, up from 20 percent in 2004.

However, while the use of technology may be on the rise, physician attitudes regarding it haven't changed much since 2004. Some physicians embrace the new measures, but a much larger number viewed health care technology as frustrating and difficult to use.

One physician even said that adopting electronic medical records was "the worst aspect of my 25 years in medicine. It has ruined doctor productivity, produced lower quality care and encouraged notes that are false to the point of fraud."

Others said the cost was prohibitive and the software difficult to implement. A common complaint -- especially among physicians who shuttle between hospitals and private practice -- was that the available systems don't do a good job of talking to one another.

Many also said physicians aren't given enough input when designing the software used by medical centers. They say the software developers don't have enough clinical knowledge to create true time-saving devices.

"It's difficult to keep IT interested in the discussion," said a physician. "They don't take the time to really understand the problem and want us to adapt to whatever software they come up with."


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