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Survey Shows Medical Community
Supports Electronic Health Records
January 15, 2011 -
Four-fifths of the nation’s hospitals, and 41 percent of office-based
physicians, currently intend to take advantage of federal incentive
payments for adoption and meaningful use of certified electronic health
records (EHR) technology, according to survey data released on Friday by
the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology
information was released as the registration period opened for the
Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. An electronic health
record (EHR) (also electronic patient record (EPR) or computerized
patient record) is an evolving concept defined as a systematic
collection of electronic health information about individual patients or
It is a record in digital format that is capable of being shared across different health care settings, by being embedded in network-connected enterprise-wide information systems. Such records may include a whole range of data in comprehensive or summary form, including demographics, medical history, medication and allergies, immunization status, laboratory test results, radiology images, vital signs, personal stats like age and weight, and billing information.
Its purpose can be
understood as a complete record of patient encounters that allows the
automation and streamlining of the workflow in health care settings and
increases safety through evidence-based decision support, quality
management, and outcomes reporting.
M.D., M.P.P., the National Coordinator for Health Information
Technology, said the survey numbers represent a reversal of the low
interest in EHR adoption in previous years.
He credited leadership from the medical community and the federal
government for the improved prospects for adoption and use of health
information technology (health IT).
“For years we have
known that electronic health records would improve care for patients and
bring about greater cost effectiveness in our health sector, yet
adoption rates by health care providers remained low,” Dr. Blumenthal
said. “In 2009, Congress
and the President authorized major new federal support for EHR adoption
and use, and in combination with medical professional and hospital
leadership. I believe we are seeing the tide turn toward widespread and
accelerating adoption and use of health IT.”
The data released
today comes from surveys commissioned by ONC and carried out in the
course of regular annual surveillance by the American Hospital
Association (AHA) and the
The AHA survey
found that 81 percent of hospitals plan to achieve meaningful use of
EHRs and take advantage of incentive payments.
About two-thirds of hospitals (65 percent) responded that they
will enroll during Stage 1 of the Incentive Programs, in 2011-2012.
The NCHS survey
found that 41 percent of office-based physicians are currently planning
to achieve meaningful use of certified EHR technology and take advantage
of the incentive payments.
Four-fifths of these, or about a third of all office-based physicians
(32.4 percent), responded that they will enroll during Stage 1 of the
programs. Only 14 percent
of respondents said they were not planning to apply for meaningful use
data from NCHS show that significantly increasing numbers of primary
care physicians have already adopted a basic EHR, rising by 50 percent
from 19.8 percent of primary care physicians in 2008 to 29.6 percent in
2010. Basic EHRs provide a
beginning point for use of electronic health records in physician
offices, but most physicians would need to further upgrade their EHR
systems or their use of the systems in order to qualify for meaningful
use incentive payments.
for the adoption and meaningful use of certified EHR technology were
authorized in the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical
Health Act (HITECH) in 2009.
Incentive payments will be made through the Medicare and Medicaid
programs. High rates of
adoption and meaningful use could result in as much as $27 billion in
incentive payments over 10 years.
physicians and other eligible professionals can obtain incentive
payments of as much as $44,000 under Medicare or $63,750 under Medicaid.
Under both Medicare and Medicaid, eligible hospitals may receive
millions of dollars for implementing and meaningfully using certified
“We are pleased to
see this evidence of an enthusiastic early response, and we believe
participation will continue to grow, especially as the Nation’s
physicians become more familiar with this one-time opportunity to
improve care while helping to offset the costs of adopting EHR systems,”
said Donald Berwick, M.D., Administrator of the Centers for Medicare &
Medicaid Services (CMS).
To qualify for
incentive payments, under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, providers
must achieve meaningful use of certified EHR technology, under
regulations issued by CMS and ONC.
Medicaid providers can receive their first year’s incentive
payment for adopting, implementing, and upgrading certified EHR
technology but must demonstrate meaningful use in subsequent years in
order to qualify for additional payments.
said the meaningful use process has contributed to the increased
willingness of providers to adopt EHR systems, especially because it
guides providers through staged objectives for the productive use of
EHRs, and because providers can now be assured that Complete EHRs and
EHR Modules certified under ONC criteria by ONC-authorized testing and
certification bodies can be relied upon to support the meaningful use
He also pointed to the technical support programs created under the HITECH Act and now operating under ONC, which offer support to providers as they switch from paper records to EHRs. In particular, 62 Regional Extension Centers (RECs) across the nation will offer customized, on-the-ground assistance, especially for smaller-practice primary care providers and for small hospitals and clinics.
“We know that
adoption of EHRs and conversion to EHR-based care is expensive and
challenging, especially for smaller providers,” Dr. Blumenthal said.
“With HITECH, we are able to provide unprecedented funding
and technical support programs to help providers make the transition
and to help our nation achieve the improvements in health care
quality, safety and cost effectiveness EHRs will bring about.”
Dr. Blumenthal also praised medical professional organizations and hospital leaders, who have encouraged members to act soon in taking advantage of HITECH support programs and adopting EHR systems.Other News Stories
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