Patients', Physicians' Views of EHRs Differ

The move to Electronic Health Record systems is really picking up at this point, with many practices making plans to implement a system or already in the process of setting one up. According to one of PMD’s polls in previous weeks, 43% of respondents are either setting one up or have one in place, and a further 18% have a plan to set one up.

Once all of a patient's information becomes available digitally, there are security issues and legal risks to worry about. However, more than half of physicians (54%) in a Practice Fusion survey believe that EHRs are safer than paper medical charts. Of the physicians in favor of EHRs, the main benefit to the technology is access to records when needed, according to 63%.

Patients, however, are not of the same mind as their doctors. More patients (47%) believe that paper is safer, 18% say EHRs are safer and 35% were unsure. More than half of the respondents who choose paper as being the safer option, 59% say that it is because paper records are a more private option and allows for more control over who see the records.

Security for medical information is, naturally the biggest concern for those who prefer paper records. More than a third of physicians in favor of paper say that paper safer since the information is less likely to be hacked or lost.

"The medical community is rejecting paper charts and embracing technology," Robert Rowley, MD, Practice Fusion's medical director said on a statement. "As a practicing physician using an EHR, I understand the benefits and some of the concerns both physicians and patients have. With more education about why EHRs are safer than paper charts, we'll see even more physicians switching from paper and patients demanding a digital solution."

Part of the hesitation to switch to an EHR system might simply be familiarity. According to the survey, 10% of doctors want to stick with paper simply so there is “no need to change the system.”

However, the new systems offer efficiency, according to the survey. One doctor claimed that using the EHR system saved her three hours a day, which could add up to more than 700 hours a year.