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Report shows increasing use of EHR in primary care

Wednesday December 12, 2012
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Physician adoption of electronic health records and other computerized tools to help improve the care, safety and coordination of healthcare for patients continues to rise, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology reported.

The report by the ONC, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that since 2009, the proportion of physicians with the technology to e-prescribe has more than doubled, from 33% to 73%. And 56% of physicians have the technology to engage with patients and their families by providing patients with summaries after visits, an increase of 46% within the past year.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics reported that the proportion of physicians who have adopted electronic health records has increased from 48% in 2009 to 72% in 2012.

According to the ONC data brief, since the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act was enacted in 2009, the proportion of physicians who meet five meaningful use core objectives has increased by at least 66%.

The HITECH Act authorized incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program to eligible professionals and hospitals for the adoption and meaningful use of certified EHR technology. To participate in incentive programs, professionals are required to demonstrate computerized capabilities that meet defined meaningful use objectives.

Among other findings in the ONC report:

• In the past year, the proportion of physicians using EHRs that meet nine meaningful use measures increased by at least 21%.

• As of 2012, at least two-thirds of physicians have the technology to improve patient safety through electronic tools such as drug interaction checks and electronic medication lists.

• At least half of physicians reported they have adopted the technology needed to meet 12 of the 13 meaningful use core objectives that were included in the data brief, while at least two-thirds have adopted the technology to meet nine measures.

The 13 measures analyzed in the data brief are computerized provider order entry for medication orders, recording of demographics, e-prescribing, recording of smoking status, recording of vital signs, medication allergy list, active medication list, drug interaction checks, maintenance of problem list, providing clinical summaries to patients, providing electronic copies of health information to patients, implementing clinical decision support rules and reporting clinical quality measures. (For more about the meaningful use measures, see www.healthit.gov/policy-researchers-implementers/meaningful-use.)

"The increase in the number of physicians that are adopting EHRs and other computerized capabilities to meet meaningful use objectives related to quality, patient safety and efficiency is encouraging," Farzad Mostashari, national coordinator at ONC, said in a news release. "Patients are the primary beneficiaries as more and more doctors adopt the use of electronic tools like EHRs. … But there is still more work to do before the full promise of health information technology is met."

The ONC report is available as a PDF at www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/onc-data-brief-7-december-2012.pdf.

The NCHS data brief is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db111.htm.


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