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EHR Adoption

By August 28, 2012Commentary

The Centers for Disease Control used survey data from about 3,180 physicians to examine current electronic health record adoption rates and reports the results in a Data Brief.    (CDC Data Brief)   About 55% of doctors have adopted an EHR.  Physicians under age 50 had a higher adoption rate, 64%, than those over that age.  Primary care and specialist doctors had about the same rates of adoption.  Adoption increases as practice size increases, from 29% of solo practitioners to 86% in practices of more than 11 doctors.  Setting also mattered, as 50% in a physician-owned practice were adopters while almost all physicians in HMOs and 70% of those in academic health centers use an EHR.  Of adopters, about 77% have a system that meets requirements for meaningful use.  Note that this does not mean the doctor is actually using it in a way that meets the HHS criteria.  Most providers use a self-contained system as opposed to a hosted model.

Among adopters, 85% are either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied.  Around 70% would purchase their system again.  Some of the benefits or uses of the systems include 74% remotely accessing a patient’s chart and 50% being alerted to a critical laboratory test value with another 41% being alerted to a potential medication error and 39% reminded to provide preventive care.  About 74% say that their system had enhanced overall patient care.  Among those doctors without an EHR, only 32% say they have no intention to get one.  To some extent the report is good news; it appears that many physicians have an EHR and are generally happy with them and find them beneficial to care.  But it is surprising that several years after incentives began, there are still a significant number of physicians without an EHR.  And the report says nothing about the costs an EHR imposes on a medical practice; other research has shown that they often increase overall costs and lower productivity.

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