The survey of 1,300 U.S. outpatient practices, conducted last fall by Physicians Practice, a business publication for physicians, found despite government financial incentives rewarding physicians who adopt electronic health records systems, the number of doctors computerizing has leveled off -- and physicians continued to complain about high up-front costs of computerizing patient records, and other challenges involved in making the transition from paper files to computerized files.
Twenty-nine percent of those without an electric health record cited high cost as the reason, more than any other factor.
"The main obstacle for electric health record holdouts is money," Bob Keaveney, editorial director of Physicians Practice, said in a statement. "But among physicians, especially in private practice, there is also a deep well of skepticism -- even resentment -- about federal incentives programs that are designed to get doctors to behave in particular ways. For example, when Medicare introduced a program to drive quality by paying a 'bonus' to physicians who stick to particular clinical protocols for many patients, a lot of doctors balked. They felt manipulated. Right or wrong, I think that many of the electric health records holdouts view this incentive program in the same light: as just another attempt to control doctors."
Nonetheless, a tipping point was reached and more doctors are using the technology than are not, and the holdouts are now at a competitive disadvantage, Keaveney said.