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    U.S. Doctors, Hospitals’ EHR Use Is Up

    Jul 24, 2013
    In just three years, 40% of office-based physicians and 42% of hospitals in the United States have implemented at least a basic electronic health records (EHR) system, according to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Harvard School of Public Health, and Mathematica Policy Research.

    In just three years, 40% of office-based physicians and 42% of hospitals in the United States have implemented at least a basic electronic health records (EHR) system, according to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Harvard School of Public Health, and Mathematica Policy Research.

    "Given the size of our country, that's amazing progress in a very short time period," report co-author Ashish Jha, M.D., an associate professor with the Harvard School of Public Health, told US News and World Report.

    The researchers credit three factors for driving the adoption of EHR: society’s increasing reliance on information technology, new federal funding to support the purchase of EHR systems, and future penalties for those who don’t use EHR.

    "It's the right incentives at the right time," Jha said. "Doctors and hospitals have been thinking about buying electronic health records [systems] for some time. This is where our society is moving. But the finances have been a challenge. The federal incentives have been very well targeted. They were well designed to help push hospitals and doctors to adopt EHRs."

    The study’s findings weren’t all quite as positive, however. For example, only 5% of the systems meet federal standards for exchanging that data with other providers to allow widespread physician access to a patient's records. The good news is that more healthcare providers are reportedly participating in initiatives that ultimately will connect their own EHR systems to community-wide information exchanges.

    Predictably, there are several improvements needed before the vision of EHRs can be fully realized. “Even with improved functionality, high-quality patient education still depends on clinicians and educators with the time and skills to tailor the right materials to the patient at the right time,” the report concluded.

    © 2016, ARMA International