Three recent surveys showed that the adoption of electronic health record systems amongst U.S. physicians and hospitals is increasing.
A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics found that the number of primary care physicians who have started using EHRs has increased from 19.8 in 2008 to 29.6 in 2010, a 49 percent jump.
The survey also showed that 41 percent of office-based physicians are planning to achieve the so-called “meaningful use” of EHRs, which would qualify them for government incentive payments. An American Hospital Association survey found that 81 percent of acute care non-federal hospitals hope to meet all meaningful use requirements to apply for the incentives, and 65 percent of hospitals plan to do so in the next two years.
The incentives were part of Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, which was part of 2009’s Stimulus bill. It stipulated that healthcare providers can receive up to $44,000 through Medicare or as much as $63,750 through Medicaid if they implement and prove meaningful use of an EHR system. Under both Medicare and Medicaid, hospitals are eligible for millions of dollars if they complete the EHR programs’ requirements.
In a letter to the American public, National Coordinator for Health Information Dr. David Blumenthal touted the results of both surveys.
"At [the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology] we are gratified that such sizable percentages of physicians and hospitals intend to take the plunge—and to take the plunge sooner rather than later," he wrote.
A survey of about 3,000 physicians by Thomson Reuters and HCPlexus, which makes management products for physicians, indicated that most physicians do not feel negative about the impact of EHRs on patient care. While only 39 percent of the survey’s respondents saw a positive impact of the Health IT systems, a smaller 24 percent saw a negative impact.
The survey, which was conducted via fax machine, also found that doctors are pessimistic about the healthcare reform law, with 65 percent saying it will cause healthcare to "deteriorate" and 74 percent saying it will result in reimbursement becoming "less fair" over the next five years.