EHR Device Survey Results

A few weeks ago, I opened a survey to guage the satisfaction EHR users have with various laptops, tablets, and desktops. I wanted to answer questions such as, "Which brands do doctors really like?" or "Does screen size matter?"

I've been sitting on the results for a few weeks, largely due to the effort of making something out of the data I gathered. I wasn't able to answer all of the questions I wanted to answer due to sample size issues - even with a few dozen responses, the variety of answers was too broad to drill down as much as I'd hoped. But we did get some data worth sharing nonetheless.

First, some demographics.

  • we identified a wide range of EHR users in the sample, from Allscripts to PCC (alphabetically). PCC and OP users made up more than 60% of the sample, which isn't a surprise.
  • Desktops and tablets made up 15% of the results each, laptops eating up the remaining 70%.
  • The most common brand was Apple (40% of respondents), followed by Dell and Lenovo at ~15% each.
  • Windows 7 Pro was the most common OS, followed by OSX. A few folks out there are still running Windows XP (danger!).
  • I did get a good mix of data for screens, hard drives, RAM, remote access, and wireless connections. Looks like some patterns of satisfaction there, too.
  • Half of the units were purchased in the last 3 years. On the flip side, half were not!

I then spent some time organizing all of these makes and models and looked for measures of satisfaction. Specifically, I looked at user satisfaction with the mouse, size, speed, battery, build quality, price, and, especially, keyboard of each model. I have opined in the past (though not here) that the most important aspect of your EHR input device is the speed and accuracy that your device allows - in other words, how fast can you type well on this new machine?

Here's what we learned:

  • Apple users are the most satisfied, no question. We didn't get enough data to really compare brands, but only Lenovo/IBM gave any competition to the Mac (where it scored better on only on price).
  • Laptops with a high resolution (1920x+), 4GB or more of RAM, and SSD drives get the best scores. These are also the _newest_ machines as well, which is also a measureable distinction.
  • There is no real difference in keyboard satisfaction between desktop and laptop/tablets.
  • There is little, if any, satisfaction with the hardware based on whether it is used at a secondary site or even if it's wired (i.e., typically a desktop)...except that the laptops tend to be better built and more expensive.
  • The fact is, most of the machines reported score well. Perhaps this is the result of the Mercedes Effect.

What can we take away from this?  Newer, faster machines are more satisfying - no surprise, but I still get too many emails from doctors looking for the cheapest solution and no the best solution.  For those who can easily use an Apple, it seems like an excellent choice.  Many physicians are using machines that are 4yo or older - sometimes dangerously so.'s clear that some people simply get used to what they know.

I am glad to review the data for anything, so please ask away!