Medical Records Institute survey: EHR use on the rise

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The Medical Records Institute (MRI) last week presented results from its annual Survey of Electronic Health Record Trends and Usage. They survey found there has been an overall up-tick in usage of electronic health records (EHR) within the industry, though some significant hurdles obviously remain.

Of the drivers for increased usage of EHRs, the two most significant and which have shifted from 3 years ago, were: improved quality of care (more than 80 percent) and facilitating workflow processes (nearly 90 percent).

This was not the case just a few years ago, said Jeff Blair, VP, MRI, who presented the findings at MRI's Health IT Trends and Marketing Conference last week. He added that the trends indicate a "much more sophisticated" view of the systems in general.

Yet, based on the survey, there continue to be perceived hurdles to implementation, the majors being:
  • A lack of resources or funding;
  • The affordability of EHR solutions or components; and
  • Trouble locating EHR solutions not "fragmented among vendors or IT platforms."
Also in the last three years, there has been a continuing rise in certain data capture methods such as tablet PCs and PDAs, dictation/transcription (with speech recognition) tools, and document scanning technology in particular which rose 67 percent in this years study, Blair said.

The survey shows an "interesting correlation," Blair added, between implementation of mobile/wireless health solutions and the overall reasons for increased use of EHRs, in that wireless technology is seen as enhancing clinical workflow and efficiency.

Planned uses of the systems for e-prescribing also has seen accelerated growth in recent years, and based on the findings of the most recent study the three biggest reasons are drug-drug interactions, medication history review, and drug reference information.

Likely due to HIPAA's requirements for transaction standards and claims processing, many organizations are looking at implementing financial and administrative applications, according to the survey.
Additionally, there is a big push for remote access in a number of areas in healthcare from picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) and storage management, and EHRs are no exception as off-site administration has grown both in current and planned usage.

The survey respondents included 400 healthcare providers, more than 90 percent of which are U.S.-based. Of the respondents, 48.6 percent work in an ambulatory environment, with 28.2 percent in hospitals, 12.5 percent in integrated health delivery service organization (IHDSO), and 10.7 percent from other miscellaneous places. Though largely comprised of IT managers and professionals (41.8 percent), the group also included physicians and nurses as well as non-IT management professionals.