February 10, 2014

EHR Adoption Rises, but Few Physicians Can Share Data

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Tags: Medical

Commonwealth Fund Finds Substantial Rise in EHR Adoption, Low Rates of Interoperability

Results from a Commonwealth Fund study, which included a survey conducted in 2009 and another conducted in 2012, report that the adoption rate of electronic health record systems among primary care physicians rose from 46% to 69%, though interoperability (the compatibility among programs) remains at about 30%.

The study’s most interesting findings are the different adoption rates between physicians working in large practices and those working in solo practices. Among the more than 2,000 primary care physicians surveyed, 90% working in practices of 20 doctors or more reported using EHRs, while only 50% of physicians working in solo practices said that they use electronic health records.

It’s logical to assume that financial obstacles play a large part in the slow adoption rate among smaller practices, and the study’s authors call for greater support programs that specifically target physicians outside of large, integrated health systems.

Backed by a growing base of evidence that underscores the benefits of EHR adoption, the federal government will continue to push for better technology integration in the U.S. healthcare system in hopes of streamlining practices. By utilizing better information technology, physicians can improve treatment outcomes for patients and decrease costs to their practice, as well as to the healthcare system as a whole.

The Commonwealth study also highlighted the low levels of EHR interoperability between physicians. If implementing electronic record storage is the first step for healthcare, connecting systems across the country must surely be the second. Only 33% of surveyed physicians could share clinical summaries with other providers, and only 35% could share diagnostic and lab results with doctors outside their practice.

Interoperability carries a great deal of importance because sharing clinical information helps prevent unnecessary medical errors, which currently occur with astounding frequency, and has a tremendous impact on both the quality and cost of U.S. healthcare.

Have you worked with an EHR system, or experienced compatibility problems? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Zach Watson

    Thanks for the comment, Sushant. I think you’re spot on when it comes to dissatisfaction among providers. A survey by the American College of Phyisicians released last year found that  the number of physicians who would not recommend their EHR to one of their peers rose from 24% in 2010 to 39% in 2012. This same survey found that surgical specialists were the least satisfied group. 

    2014 should be even more interesting as physicians will continue to implement systems that may not totally satisfy their expectations in order to meet Meaningful Use and avoid penalties in 2015. 

    The key to improving EHRs starts with designing products that work well with specific specialties and that allow for continual growth in functionality to conform both to user expectations as well as federal regulations, like ICD-10 in October. 

  2. Sushant Saraswat

    The medical fraternity is far from satisfied when it comes to EHR implementation. Last year has been very eventful for the Healthcare IT industry, with the widespread adoption of HIPPA, Hitech regulations and the approaching deadlines for Healthcare organizations to switch to EHRs have definitely led to some systems being implemented in a chaotic manner without due importance given to meaningful use, also aiding to this turmoil is the constantly changing regulatory landscape.

    Do let me know your views on this.
    For EHRs to be really transformational , one needs an system which is flexible, interoperable and can adapt to changing compliance requirements easily. Following up on this, I came across and registered for a webinar on Healthcare IT: Role of EDI in Affordable Care Act Reforms, it looks a promising one http://j.mp/1b4qJC3