Medical Strategic Planning's (Lincroft, New Jersey) 2004 Reality Survey of Physician Group Practices (PGPs) shows that a variety of reasons are cited as being behind their fear of taking the electronic health record (EHR) leap.

First, some believe the time to train physicians and other staff will be prohibitive; others believe the technology is beyond their ability to manage or that it will provide unreliable information or fail at a critical moment.

Second, many PGPs believe that an EHR will dramatically slow down patient encounters, at least during the early implementation phases.

Third, most smaller practices simply believe that in spite of the rapid return on investment, they cannot afford to make the initial investment in EHR software and hardware that is required; for many it is a "bet your practice" proposition financially.

Fourth, in spite of information on systems from HIMSS and other sources, physicians are still confused by the vast array of software solutions available and how to determine which are the best fit for their specific practice needs.

Finally, most EHR or PMS suppliers are software-only solutions, omitting the hardware and network components that these applications require to run. PGPs are looking for turnkey or at least fully integrated solutions, but vendors continue to turn a deaf ear to that requirement. As a result of these five issues, adoption of the EHR is much less rapid than it might otherwise be.

Medical Strategic Planning has announced a physician EHR and PMS software "Expert System Selector" application that helps practices match their needs against the capabilities of alternative software solutions available. This product, now being developed, will be available to physician groups in 3Q04.