Nearly 40% of R.I. physicians use electronic systems

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The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) has released two reports that show how many individual providers use health IT on a regular basis. Rhode Island is the first state in the country to measure this, and nearly 40 percent of its physicians report using electronic clinical information systems to help care for their patients.

In addition, about 25 percent of physicians transmit their prescriptions electronically.

"One of the state's healthcare priorities is to use [health] IT to increase the efficient delivery of patient care," said Samara Viner-Brown, MS, HEALTH's public reporting program director. "These data help us to see how many physicians are actually using [health] IT. Patients can see if their physician uses electronic medical records or can find a physician who uses electronic medical records."

The survey reflects a three-year collaboration to encourage physician reporting in Rhode Island, according to the department. In 1998, a legislative mandate required HEALTH to publicly report healthcare quality for licensed providers. In 2006, the law was expanded to include reports from individual physicians. HEALTH and public reporting partner Quality Partners of Rhode Island identified HIT adoption as a local priority and developed the survey to assess physicians' technology use.

The R.I. Quality Institute (RIQI) will use the survey results to evaluate local trends in health IT adoption. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and UnitedHealthCare of New England plan to use the survey's results to guide their health IT-based incentive programs.

"While we understand that technology is not a cure-all, it is certainly a critical foundation for so many of our efforts to improve healthcare quality, safety and value," said RIQI President and CEO Laura Adams.

The 2009 Physician Report and 2009 Summary Report can be viewed here