Data Demands Still Tax Physicians

Though most medical groups have invested heavily in health IT, particularly EHRs, most are still struggling to manage the data necessary for running the practice. Sure, Meaningful Use incentives helped them get the technology in the door, squeezing the best performance out of it calls for institutional and financial resources that many can’t afford.

As a result. new survey results underscoring the difficulty practices face in managing data came as little surprise to me.  The survey, which was sponsored by Geneia, found that 89% of responding physicians felt that the “business and regulation of healthcare” has had a negative effect on the practice of medicine.

Fifty-two percent of those responding were ambivalent about the impact of EHRs in their workplace. This included 21% who had a positive view and 22% a negative view of the role of EHRs.

In addition, while 96% of respondents said that they believe that EHRs should integrate better with technology systems used by the office and insurance providers, 57% said that their EHRs don’t integrate these systems. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of respondents said they didn’t have the staff and resources needed to analyze and use EHR data efficiently.

Seventy-nine percent of respondents said they’d like to use an integrated EHR analytics tool to access predictive and reporting on existing data. Also, many said they’d like to have population health tools available to identify high-risk patients, find patients who need proactive screenings or monitoring and stratify patients into low-, rising- and high-risk categories.

Also, 68% said they need advanced analytics tools to be successful under value-based care arrangements, with 64% of population health users reporting that they think they such tools can help them assess patient history and needs more efficiently.

As things stand, however, these physicians don’t seem to be getting enough IT bang for their buck. Virtually all (96%) reported that the amount of time they spend on data input and reporting has grown over the last 10 years, and they’re having trouble keeping up with the pace. Also, 86% agreed that “the heightened demand for data reporting to support quality metrics and the business side of healthcare has diminished my joy in practicing medicine.”

Ideally, the technology will rise to meet this need, as Geneia clearly hopes to do. The researchers found that 44% of surveyed physicians public data and analytics tools could help improve quality performance, Medicare star ratings and HEDIS reporting.

Unfortunately for physicians, no technology can make it dead simple to report on quality measures that vary widely from payer to accrediting body to ACO contract. Seeing to it that those data requests are standardized is a business issue they’ll need to confront regardless of how technology platforms play out. Still, putting better risk management tools into providers’ hands can at least help physicians improve outcomes for patients.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

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  • I am not at all surprised by these findings. Many practices view EHRs as both the front end and the back end of their IT architectures. However, as we know, EHRs are very poor solutions for integrating data across many sources. Instead, providers should focus on the data architecture that the EHR is built on top of. In this way, it becomes an app focused on user experience rather than how to store and integrate data. There are so many tools available to build this infrastructure out at low cost, but providers have not done so yet.

   

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