EHR Adoption Advances, But With Too Many Kinks


At least 40% of office-based physicians have a basic electronic health record (EHR) system, but they are unable to do some of the functions necessary for meeting stage 1 of the federal meaningful use objectives, according to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (http://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2013/07/health-information-technology-in-the-united-states-2013.html).

There are 15 core objectives in stage 1 that must be met in order for the government to underwrite up to $44,000 in new technology costs per physician (https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms/downloads/MU_Stage1_ReqOverview.pdf).

The authors surveyed 172 hospitals and physician groups between August and November 2012.

About half of the physicians say that they find it very difficult, somewhat difficult, or basically impossible to “generate lists of patients by lab results or need for overdue care, track referrals, or [generate] reports on quality of care.”

However, physicians who did meet the standards “were more likely to report that panel management functionalities were easy to use compared to physicians who did not meet the objectives.”

The three stages for implementing meaningful use standards are:

  • 2011–2013: collect and share data
  • 2014–2015: implement advanced clinical processes
  • 2016 and after: improve patient outcomes

“In 2012, 40% of office-based physicians had adopted at least a basic EHR,” the survey says. “These physicians were most likely to be primary care physicians in a practice of 11 or more physicians owned by a hospital, academic medical center, health maintenance organization, or other health care organization in rural places.”

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