Blog | Wednesday, July 10, 2013

QD: News Every Day--4 of 10 health facilities have installed EHRs

About 4 of 10 doctor's offices and hospitals have an electronic health record (EHR) system, with the adopters being exactly who one might think would do so, larger practices and urban medical centers.

Three articles outlining EHR uptake were released online July 9 at Health Affairs and will appear in the journal's August issue.

The first article explained that fewer than half of us hospitals had at least a basic EHR in 2012.

Data from the 2012 health IT supplement to the American Hospital Association's annual survey showed that 44% of hospitals had at least a basic EHR system. This was a 17% increase from 2011 and a near-tripling of the 2010 adoption rate.

Large urban hospitals continued to outpace rural and nonteaching hospitals, the authors continued. And while 42.2% of all hospitals met all the stage 1 meaningful-use criteria, only 5.1% met stage 2 criteria.

Authors wrote, "Although our findings demonstrate considerable progress on the whole, they suggest the need for a focus on hospitals still trailing behind, especially small and rural institutions. This will be especially important as stage 2 meaningful-use criteria become the rule, and positive incentives are replaced by penalties for noncompliance."

The second article noted that office-based physicians are responding to incentives and assistance in installing EHRs.

Data from the 2010-12 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey--Electronic Health Records Surveys, revealed that the proportion of physicians using at least a basic EHR system increased from just 25% in 2010 to 40% last year. Physicians who had lower levels of adoption in the past, those who were older, in solo practices, or working at community health centers, saw the largest relative increases.

Authors noted that this adoption surge may have been partially due to the availability of financial incentives for providers treating Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Their findings also show that EHR adoption rates for solo practitioners were less than half the adoption rates of physicians in practices with eleven physicians or more. They wrote, "As providers become increasingly accountable for both costs and quality of care, having robust information systems that allow them to manage care more effectively and share information with their patients will be critical."

A third study found that 30% of hospitals and 10% of ambulatory practices participated in one of 119 operational health information exchange efforts--more than double the early 2010 participation rate. But, they cautioned, for progress to continue after federal funding runs out, policy makers must help these efforts identify and implement sustainable business models.