A new study has found that one in four doctors (24.9 percent) are currently using electronic health records (EHRs), but under 10 percent are using the systems to their full potential for decision support and to gather patient information, test results, and enter medical orders and prescriptions. The data were gathered by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and George Washington University (GWU) for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The report was commissioned to set a benchmark for where the United States stands on EHR adoption.
Overall, the research shows that EHR adoption rates remain very low because of multiple financial, technical, and legal barriers. “We are pitifully behind where we should be. We must find ways to get more physicians to embrace this technology if we are to make major strides in improving healthcare quality,” said David Blumenthal, MD, director, Institute for Health Policy, MGH/Partners, study co-author.
Some of the key highlights of the report:
- The research team estimates that around 5 percent of U.S. hospitals have adopted computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems, a component of EHRs;
- Currently, there is no evidence that suggests there is a digital divide between caregivers of different populations, but more information is needed. However, data available do suggest that doctors who treat fewer Medicaid patients are more likely to report using EHRs;
- Various factors drive adoption such financial incentives and barriers; laws and regulations; size of a practice or hospital or payer mix; and how integrated a healthcare system is; and
- A better definition of EHRs is essential. According to the report, the United States could do more to measure EHR adoption trends over time if there was consistency in terminology and survey methods