Less than 2 percent of U.S. hospitals have a comprehensive electronic records system and less than 8 percent have even a basic system, according to a study led by recently appointed National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Dr. David Blumenthal.
“We are at a very early stage in adoption, a very low stage compared to other countries,” Blumenthal said of the data collected in 2008 from about 2,900 hospitals.
The survey, published on the website of the The New England Journal of Medicine, cited concerns about maintenance costs, resistance by physicians and an unclear return on investment as barriers to implementing such systems in hospitals. The biggest reason was cost, but help could be on the way.
The Congressional Budget Office (PDF) estimates that the economic stimulus package passed by Congress in February could generate more than $20 billion in federal HIT outlays, mostly between 2011 and 2015.
Erica Drazen, who runs Computer Sciences Corp.’s healthcare research group, told the medical journal that costs for installing electronic records systems vary, but a midsize hospital could spend about $10 million on one. The stimulus incentives could cover about $6 to $7 million of that, prompting more hospitals to tap the federal aid.
The study, funded by the federal government and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Foundation, did not include federal hospitals.