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.