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More doctors adopting EHRs to improve patient care and safety

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HHS -- Dec. 12, 2012 -- Physician adoption of electronic health record (EHR) and other computerized tools to help improve care, safety and coordination of health care for patients across the county continue to rise, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) reports in a new data brief.

Last week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported that the percentage of doctors adopting electronic health records has increased from 48 percent in 2009 to 72 percent in 2012.  The ONC report shows that since 2009, the percent of physicians with computerized capabilities to e-prescribe has more than doubled, from 33 percent to 73 percent.  Within the past year, more physicians (56 percent) have the computerized capabilities to engage with patients and their families by providing patients with summaries after visits, an increase of 46 percent.

The data brief, Physician Adoption of Electronic Health Record Technology to Meet Meaningful Use Objectives, found that since the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was enacted in 2009, the percentage of doctors that are meeting five meaningful use core objectives has increased by at least 66 percent. The HITECH Act authorized incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program to eligible professionals and hospitals for the adoption and meaningful use of certified EHR technology. To participate in incentive programs, professionals are required to demonstrate computerized capabilities that meet defined meaningful use objectives. The data are reported from the 2012 mail survey of physicians in the National Electronic Health Record Survey conducted by NCHS.

“The increase in the number of physicians that are adopting EHRs and other computerized capabilities to meet meaningful use objectives related to quality, patient safety and efficiency is encouraging,” said Farzad Mostashari, national coordinator. “Patients are the primary beneficiaries as more and more doctors adopt the use of electronic tools like EHRs.”

The new data brief also shows:

  • In the past year, the percent of doctors using EHRs meeting nine meaningful use measures increased by at least 21 percent.
  • As of 2012, two thirds or more of physicians have computerized capability to improve patient safety through electronic tools such as drug interaction checks and electronic medication lists.
  • Half or more of physicians reported they have adopted computerized tools to meet twelve meaningful use core objectives, and at least two thirds have adopted computerized tools to meet nine measures out of 13. In 2012 there are 15 required measures; the data brief reports on 13 of those measures.

“The the number of doctors adopting EHRs increasing, and more of them are using the technology to meet the objectives that will help them improve care for their patients,” said Dr. Mostashari.  “But there is still more work to do before the full promise of health information technology is met.”


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