Vast majority of U.S. hospitals do not use EHRs

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
e-mail icon
Google icon
In-hospital EHRs are not experiencing widespread adoption. Image Source: Memorial Healthcare  

Relatively few U.S. hospitals—between 2 and 12 percent—use EHRs, according to a hospital IT adoption survey, conducted in conjunction with the American Hospital Association (AHA).

Ashish Jha, MD, of the Harvard University School of Public Health and Catherine DesRoches of the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Health Policy in Boston, reported the results to American Health Information Community (AHIC) on Nov. 12, at its final meeting. The survey received responses from more than 3,000 U.S. non-federal hospitals, DesRoches said.

“This is somewhat sobering,” Jha said. However, he added that more than 75 percent of the hospitals have some form of electronic patient records.  

With the help of an expert panel, the researchers defined a comprehensive hospital EHR, which they decided comprised 24 functions, such as ordering laboratory tests and recording discharge summaries, according to Government Health IT. The survey found that only 1.7 percent of hospitals had comprehensive systems at work in all hospital departments.

Jha told the AHIC that if federal hospitals had been included, that number would have increased to 4 percent.

The researchers also defined two smaller sets of functions, which they labeled basic EHRs, and determined that as many as 12 percent of hospitals had a minimal basic EHR at work in at least one department, Government Health IT reported.

However, as many as 78 percent of hospitals had certain functions on the list, such as recording patient demographics or viewing results of lab tests. “They just haven’t put the pieces together” to create a comprehensive EHR, Jha said.

He said e-prescribing is the biggest hurdle facing most hospitals at this time, and cost was cited as a major barrier.

Health and Human Services Department (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt expressed disappointment at the way the data was presented to the AHIC. “It belies the actual progress to simply measure those who have arrived” at the goal of comprehensive EHRs, he said.

Jha said that in many cases, the hospitals have laid the foundations for more automation and can now move ahead with implementation.