U.S. docs hesitant in adoption of health IT tools

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Despite a feeling of inevitability regarding the use of integrated technology healthcare, the bulk of U.S. physicians remain hesitant in their adoption of such tools for direct patient care, according to a newly published analysis by consulting firm Deloitte.

More than 70 percent of 613 physicians responding to the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions 2013 Survey of U.S. Physicians indicated that they think use of health IT tools ultimately will cost more, not less, and that the promise of reduced costs due to increased use is "inflated." What's more, 60 percent of respondents said they think that hospital-physician relationships will become less stable as hospitals continue to comply with Meaningful Use.

Overall, two-thirds of responding physicians said that their practice has an electronic health record system in compliance with Stage 1 of the Meaningful Use incentive program. For physicians working in an integrated system, that number jumped to 89 percent. However, only 31 percent of solo doctors said they had an EHR in compliance with Stage 1.

For physicians in practices lacking a Stage 1 compliant EHR, a majority (72 percent) said that upfront costs hindered such efforts.

With regard to mobile use, meanwhile, six out of 10 responding physicians indicated they were "non-users." Major hurdles to use, they said, included a "failure of the worksite to provide such devices," (44 percent) as well as concerns about patient privacy.

"The adoption of HIT … remains a work in progress in many communities," the authors said. "Acceleration of adoption is more likely if local insurers, employers and consumers tie their provider choices [narrow networks] to those using HIT effectively in clinical care coordination and administrative paperwork reduction."

They added that health IT adoption is poised to move swiftly from what they refer to as Wave One--where providers use integrated technology primarily for outcome improvement--to Wave Two--which will focus more on "coordination of care in risk-sharing relationships with payers."

"HIT underpins the future healthcare system and is a required tool for physicians," the authors said. "While apprehension may be understandable, inaction is not an option."

According to CompTIA's annual healthcare IT insights study published in February, mobile technologies and EHRs both are slowly but surely gaining traction with healthcare providers. Roughly 72 percent of the 375 healthcare providers surveyed by the Downers Grove, Ill.-based IT trade association said they thought that mobility was positively impacting the industry. Meanwhile, more than half of the respondents said that at least some of their staff currently were using tablets, while more than 60 percent said the same for smartphone usage.

Forty-three percent of respondents said they had a comprehensive EHR system in place, while 20 percent of respondents said they had a partial system in place.

To learn more:
- here's the Deloitte report (.pdf)

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