With all the pressure to computerize medical records and clinical processes over the past several years, it is not surprising that most family physicians now use electronic health record systems (EHRs).1 What may be easy to lose track of in the recent wave of computerization efforts, though, is that thousands of family physicians have been using EHRs for some time now – many of them for long enough that they have already scrapped one system and switched to a new one.
After several years surveying family physicians about their satisfaction with EHR systems,2 we are finally at the point where it is appropriate to survey those family physicians whose EHR systems needed to be replaced. Why? Because they are in the vanguard of a trend that will no doubt escalate. Given the relative youth of the technology, the difficulty of choosing the right system on the first try, and the increasing difficulty of “Meaningful Use,” chances are quite good that many more practices will be abandoning their current EHRs for new ones. If you have already made the switch, your advice can help many of your colleagues who are going through what you've been through.
About the survey
The survey is open to AAFP members whose practices have switched EHR systems in the last four and a half years – since Jan. 1, 2010. We've chosen that cutoff date because it marks the beginning of a shift in EHR functionality as vendors attempted to improve their products for the Meaningful Use program. We encourage all members who changed EHRs during this time period to respond; the more who do, the more complete and useful the report will be. The survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete.
But my partner is taking the survey. If you and your partner are like most family physicians, you don't agree on everything. Your opinion counts, and so does your partner's. We need to hear from you both and the rest of your family physician colleagues too. If there are six of you, you probably have six different opinions of the system you use. Please spread the word.
But I wasn't involved in the decision to change systems. Of course we need to hear from the decision makers, but chances are good that your view of the change and your opinions of the previous and new systems will differ from theirs. We need to hear from you too.
But I'm not computer savvy. You shouldn't have to be computer savvy to use an EHR. We need to hear from all types of EHR users, not just the enthusiasts. Your colleagues need your input.
But I just hate our new EHR. Then don't you think it's important to tell colleagues who might be on the point of switching to it? They really need to hear from you.
What's in it for you
In addition to helping many of your fellow family physicians, your response will provide feedback to vendors that may spur improvements in EHR technology – perhaps even in the EHR you use. Also, one randomly selected respondent will receive an Apple iPad Air, and 10 others will receive certificates good for a one-year subscription to FPM in print.
Taking the survey
To make responding convenient, we are publishing the survey instrument in the print issue of FPM and on the FPM website. The easiest way to submit a survey is to go to https://www.aafp.org/fpm/ehrsurvey, select your answer choices, and click Submit. Alternatively, you can
, complete it by hand, and fax the results to us at 913-906-6010. Be sure to respond by Sept. 30. Your colleagues will thank you.