How do we Interpret EHR Satisfaction Ratings?

The EHR market has seen a lot of churn over the last decade. It is no wonder there are websites which rank medical software and services which aggregate user feedback either anonymously or using survey methodologies. Some firms even produce annual EHR satisfaction ratings which aim to help end-users make what is perhaps the most important decision that can affect their productivity over the next few years.

However many doctors are confused when they read the results of such surveys and are no closer to determining which software might suit their practice the best. What do the numbers really tell you about an EHR? What does a user satisfaction of 3.6 on a scale of 5 tell you about whether your employees will be able to adapt to the workflow? Contrary to expectations, some of the more popular products get lower ratings when compared to the competition leaving users mystified as to how they became so common in the first place.

Part of this confusion is because numbers rarely tell the complete story. The usefulness and user satisfaction with an EHR depends on a number of factors: smooth project implementation, technical knowledge of users, how long they have been using the system as well as qualities inherent to the software such as intuitive design and navigation etc. The myriad aspects which make one product successful within a practice can be difficult to boil down to a single number.

Users who have not yet had time or sufficient training on a system may give very low ratings to the software. Some EHRs are tailor-made to certain specializations and will do poorly when applied outside the particular context. On the other hand, hospitals with massive IT budgets are usually more successful than smaller practices when it comes to customizing general-purpose EHR systems. All these factors affect the final rating of any EHR and it can be difficult for readers to gauge how accurate the results are or if it is indeed reflective of real-world usage.

Nevertheless such surveys can be a good starting point for your research into various products. Instead of relying on them to make your decision, they can be used to narrow the field down to a few alternatives. You may be better served by asking for personal reviews from fellow dentists based on their own experience rather than surveys which tend to include different kinds of users.

Dovetail is a mobile cloud-based dental software that is targeted to dental practices. Our software was designed in consultation with practicing dental experts so that you can get on with treating patients.