The seemingly never-ending debate about the benefits of electronic health records and their use in practice is heating up again after a new report by Surescripts suggested that more than half of 300 recently interviewed U.S. physicians are “very or extremely satisfied” with their access to patient information.

Per Surescripts’ Physician Perspectives on Access to Patient Data report, physicians said they feel the best part of EHR use is accessibility. Furthermore, the ability to review medication adherence is one of the most important bits of information they can review inside the EHRs.

Eighty-three percent of physicians said access to that information is a top priority; however, only 56 percent of them said they didn’t trust the information they could access about medication adherence because the data was provided by patients.

"Without direct access to medication data from sources like pharmacy benefit managers and health plans, doctors struggle to form a complete picture of patient adherence. In fact, 56 percent of respondents say they don’t trust what information they can access about medication adherence — making it the least reliable information type in our survey," the authors of the survey said.

Price transparency also is limited for many of the physicians in the study, who said they would be able to make better prescription choices for their patients if they were able to see these costs in the EHR. The same goes for out-of-pocket costs of medication. This would be helpful, they say, when prescribing meds.

Fifty-six percent of physicians said that is a high priority, but only 11 percent find it easy to access electronically. Seventy-four percent of physicians also mentioned that it’s important to consider a patient’s medical benefit information before prescribing, and 59 percent want to be able to compare the cost of similar medications.

These physicians also want access to information about the other care their patients have received — for almost 90 percent this information is a priority. That said, 30 percent say they have easy access to this information, and only 33 percent of them say they can easily determine which other care providers a patient has seen. A majority said they value each of these building blocks of coordinated care.

"Today’s physicians want to improve care quality and reduce costs for their patients. To meet those aims, they’re looking for easier access to data and stronger, faster connections to the other providers and organizations who share in their patients’ care," the report said.

Surescripts says that this type of research is critical in helping providers gain "access to actionable patient intelligence within their EHR;" and the results of such research help the industry focus on areas that may need more attention the lack of medication adherence through the electronic record, and possibly being able to better see care given by other providers.

The study responses were gathered through a web-based survey between Oct. 5 and Oct. 17, 2017. To qualify for the survey, physicians had to have been in practice for at least five years, spend at least 50 percent of their time providing direct patient care for at least 100 patients a year and use an electronic health record.