Thursday, July 11, 2013

EHR Adoption Steady but Slow

Physicians are continuing to adopt electronic health records at a steady pace, but more work is needed to have those systems communicate with each other. This is according to two studies published Tuesday in Health Affairs magazine.
The first study used data about EHR adoption from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. The sample size was 10,302 physicians with a response rate of more than 89%. Researchers found that solo practitioners' EHR adoption rate grew by more than 127% from 2010 to 2012, but that they were still half as likely to have a basic EHRs as those in groups with 11 or more physicians. Specialists were less likely than primary care physicians to have adopted basic EHRs in 2012, unchanged from 2 years prior. Finally, basic EHR adoption among physicians 65 and older doubled between 2010 and 2012, but that age group was still the least likely to have a basic EHR. The study defined a basic EHR as having seven capabilities including recording patient history and clinical notes, viewing lab results and imaging reports, and using computerized prescription ordering. Overall, the study found that the number of EHR adopters was up from just over 25% in 2010.
The second report, also published online in Health Affairs, focused on information exchange. Researchers found that 30% of hospitals and 10% of ambulatory practices participated in one of 119 health information exchanges in 2012. These numbers were more than double the 2010 statistics. For this study, researchers surveyed 322 organizations who could potentially engage in a health information exchange. The exchanges promote interoperability, or the ability of EHR systems to throw and catch patient data between health systems or between hospitals and physician offices, or between physician offices and labs or pharmacies.
Interoperability within the industry remains a challenge for the healthcare industry, according to the National Coordinator for Health IT at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A survey last year found 71% cited interoperability as a major barrier to further EHR implementation.

You can view the original article from MedpageToday here, with links to both studies. 

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