AHA Report: Almost All U.S. Hospitals Now Use EHRs

Most (85%) share clinical data with other hospitals

Nearly all (96%) of U.S. hospitals use electronic health records (EHRs), and 85% share clinical data with other hospitals, according to new survey data from the American Hospital Association Information Technology Supplement. The report comes at the start of the annual meeting of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in Washington, D.C.

The data also show that the adoption rate of certified EHRs has increased from almost 72% in 2011 (when this information began to be collected) to 96% in 2015. While the overall rate for the use of certified health IT has remained stable, the new data show that adoption rates for small, rural, and critical access hospitals increased. Further, the percentage of hospitals sending, receiving, and finding key clinical information grew between 2014 and 2015.

In 2015, about half of hospitals had health information electronically available from providers outside their systems––a 5% increase from 2014.

The report includes other key findings:

  • Since 2014, small and rural hospitals increased their adoption of basic EHRs by at least 14%, and critical access hospitals increased their adoption of basic EHRs by 18%.
  • In 2015, while more than eight in 10 general-medicine hospitals adopted a basic EHR, a little over half of children’s hospitals adopted a basic EHR and only 15% of psychiatric hospitals adopted a basic EHR.
  • In 2008, there were no significant differences in basic EHR adoption rates between children’s and general-medicine hospitals, whereas psychiatric hospitals were significantly lower than general-medicine hospitals.
  • Between 2008 and 2015, adoption of basic EHRs doubled among psychiatric hospitals, increased five-fold for children's hospitals, and increased seven-fold for general-medicine hospitals.
  • In 2015, hospital basic EHR adoption rates were above 65% across all states, whereas in 2008, all states had basic EHR adoption rates at or below 22%.
  • In 2011, hospital adoption of basic EHRs across a majority of states (n = 28) was between 20% and 39%.
  • State-level hospital adoption of basic EHR systems was 80% or higher in 35 states in 2015, whereas no states in 2011 had hospital basic EHR adoption rates at 80% or higher.
  • In 2015, approximately eight out of 10 hospitals (84%) adopted EHRs with advanced levels of functionality above basic EHRs without clinician notes; this refers to the adoption of comprehensive EHRs (40%) and basic EHRs with clinician notes (44 %).
  • While there was an 11% increase in the adoption of EHRs with advanced levels of functionality above basic EHRs between 2014 and 2015, there was a 42% decrease in the use of less-advanced EHRs (basic without clinician notes).

Now that EHR adoption is widespread across most hospitals and at the state level, efforts that have focused on EHR adoption are shifting to the interoperability of health information and to the use of health information technology to support care delivery system reform, the report notes.

Sources: HealthLeaders Media; June 3, 2016; and ONC Data Brief; May 2016.