Many practices’ EHRs might not pass muster

Doctors have been installing electronic health record systems at a brisk clip in the last few years, but those systems might not be able to do everything that’s needed for the owners to qualify for meaningful use incentive payments, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (

“From 2011 to 2012, the percentage of physicians who reported having a system that met the criteria for a basic system increased from 34 percent to 40 percent,” says the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. On the other hand “In 2012, 27 percent of office-based physicians who planned to apply or already had applied for meaningful use incentives had computerized systems with capabilities to support 13 of the Stage 1 core set objectives for meaningful use.”

There are 15 core set objectives that must be met in order for the government to underwrite up to $44,000 in new technology costs per physician. Unfortunately, “Some physicians with systems supporting the 13 core objectives examined in this report may not have a system that supports the remaining two objectives, as well as 5 of the 10 Menu Set objectives required for payment.”

Of those objectives, the CDC says that estimates of physician readiness to meet Stage 1 objectives were obtained by calculating EHRs that had all of the following features:

  • Recording patient demographic information, current problems, vital signs, smoking status, medications, and patient allergies
  • Having computerized provider order entry for medications
  • Sending prescriptions electronically to the pharmacy
  • Providing drug-drug and drug-allergy alerts
  • Having at least one clinical decision support rule implemented
  • Reporting clinical quality measures to federal or state agencies
  • Providing patients with an electronic copy of their health information and with clinical summaries for each visit

Percentage of office-based physicians with EHR systems

Source: National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, 2001–2012

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