Several Studies Reveal Growing Adoption of Health IT Across the U.S.
Several studies published Monday in the journal Health Affairs find that adoption of health IT is growing among health care providers but that barriers remain to widespread use of the technology.
Report on Hospital EHR Use
A report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 44% of hospitals used basic electronic health record systems in 2012, compared with 27% in 2011, Los Angeles Times' "Nation Now" reports.
According to the report, the rate of hospital EHR adoption has tripled since 2010 (Gorman, "Nation Now," Los Angeles Times, 7/8).
The report found that the EHR adoption rate among rural hospitals was 33.5% in 2012, a 257% increase from 2010. The EHR adoption rate among urban hospitals was 47.7% in 2012, a 180% increase from 2010 (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 7/8).
The report also found that 42% of hospitals had all of the necessary EHR functions to meet Stage 1 of the meaningful use program, compared with 4.4% in 2010.
Only 5% of hospitals met all 16 objectives for Stage 2 of the meaningful use program, but 63% said they met 11 to 15 of the required functionalities.
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Perna, Healthcare Informatics, 7/8).
According to the authors, increases in overall adoption of EHRs suggest that positive and negative financial incentives in the U.S. health care system are working as intended. However, they wrong that building a nationwide health IT infrastructure might require targeted efforts to boost adoption among smaller and rural hospitals (DesRoches et al., "Adoption of Electronic Health Records Grows Rapidly, but Fewer Than Half of U.S. Hospitals Had at Least a Basic System in 2012," July 2013).
Report on EHR Use Among Office-Based Physicians
A second report released by RWJF found that 38% of office-based physicians used EHRs in 2012, an increase from 26% in 2010 ("Nation Now," Los Angeles Times, 7/8).
The highest relative increase in adoption was among office-based physicians with historically low adoption levels, such as older doctors or those working in individual practices or community health centers.
However, the report found that small practices continued to have lower EHR adoption rates than larger practices (Hsiao et al., "Office-Based Physicians Are Responding to Incentives and Assistance by Adoption and Using Electronic Health Records," August 2013).
Report on Health Information Exchange Adoption
While 42% of hospitals have met federal standards for electronic data collection, only 5% have met the same standards for data exchange, according to a third report released by RWJF (Thompson, HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report, 7/8).
The report found that 75% of all hospital service areas had a health information exchange in 2012, but only 30% of community hospitals and 10% of physicians reported participating in a health data exchange.
Respondents listed several barriers to health information exchange adoption, including:
- Financial sustainability;
- Privacy and confidentiality concerns;
- Government policies and mandates;
- Technical problems;
- Stakeholder competition concerns; and
- Accuracy of patient data.
The authors recommended that several steps be taken to boost health information exchange use, such as:
- Including more health information exchange requirements in Stage 3 of the meaningful use program;
- Boosting efforts to engage payers in health data exchange by determining potential barriers and designing appropriate policies; and
- Having the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT emphasize the need for states to identify sustainable business models related to data exchange (Goedert, Health Data Management, 7/8).
Report on Adoption of E-Prescribing
Meanwhile, a report released by Surescripts and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology found that incentives under the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act, or MIPPA, greatly increased the number of health care providers who use electronic prescribing technology, Medscape reports.
Researchers found that the average number of providers who began e-prescribing for the first time increased from 1,437 per month to 6,346 per month in the period following the passage of MIPPA.
In addition, the report found that:
- Incentives accounted for the addition of about 90,000 new e-prescribers after MIPPA's passage;
- Nearly 40% of active prescribers at the end of 2010 had adopted the technology because of the incentives; and
- Physicians who already were using e-prescribing technology increased the volume of e-prescriptions by 10% following MIPPA's passage (Lowes, Medscape, 7/8).