Family Practice Management has published the results from three surveys of vendors of electronic medical record systems, or electronic health record systems (EHRs), as they have been called more recently. The most recent of these reports appeared four years ago, however,1 and all had the inherent weakness of providing information self-reported by vendors who might reasonably be expected to be biased.
A survey of users of EHRs could have avoided that potential for bias, but finding enough family physicians who use EHRs to make such a survey worthwhile would have been difficult four years ago. Enough practices have adopted EHR technology in recent years, however, that the time for such a survey appears to have arrived. The AAFP's Center for Health Information Technology estimates that 10 percent to 15 percent of AAFP members now use EHRs.
In this issue, FPM is publishing an EHR user survey – not the results yet, but the survey form itself, as a means of data collection. The survey instrument was developed in cooperation between the editors of FPM and Kenneth G. Adler, MD, MMM. The survey is modified and greatly expanded from the EHR demonstration rating form included in Adler's article in this issue, “How to Pick an EHR,” page 55.
The intent of this survey is not to arrive at a picture of the current state of EHR use among family physicians. Rather it is to collect satisfaction data from as many family-physician users of as many different EHR systems as possible and, by publishing system-specific results in an upcoming issue of FPM, to help future purchasers of EHR systems make sound choices for their practices.
The survey project will succeed in direct proportion to the number of family physicians who respond. Certainly having one response from a group practice where six family physicians use the same EHR is not enough, since all six are likely to have different opinions of the system. The ideal is to obtain a response from every family physician who uses a commercially available EHR system. That said, the broadcast nature of this survey requires some validation of responses – some provision to guarantee that respondents are indeed family physicians, that no one is submitting multiple responses to the survey, etc. While not ideal, the most practical means of validation available seems to be verification of AAFP membership; consequently, the survey asks for your membership number. Only responses from AAFP members will be tabulated.
Completing the survey
We realize that this comprehensive survey will take time out of your already busy day. We want to thank you in advance for responding. By doing so you will likely help many of your fellow family physicians and provide feedback to vendors that further spurs improvements in EHR technology. In order to maximize the number of valid responses and to make it as convenient as possible to respond, FPM is publishing the survey instrument both in this issue of FPM and online through the FPM Web site. The easiest way to submit a survey is to go online to www.aafp.org/ehrsurvey.xml. By providing your responses electronically, you will facilitate the analysis process. Alternatively, you can download the survey below, complete it by hand, and send the results to FPM either by fax at 913-906-06010 or by mail at Family Practice Management, 11400 Tomahawk Creek Pkwy, Leawood, KS 66211.
Thank you for your input. Your response will help many of your colleagues make the tough decisions involved in selecting an EHR system. Results will be published in a future issue of FPM.