State of the EHR World

Last month, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released a report showing off the incredible growth in Health IT that has occurred in recent years, especially since the introduction of the HITECH act and the implementation of Meaningful Use requirements. The report breaks down increased hospital and provider participation, as well as the adoption of technology and shows off how the economic benefits of the program are working as they were designed.

As of March 2013, more than 85% of hospitals were registered for ONC’s EHR incentive program and most of these have attested to meaningfully using their EHR technology. Small practices, with only a few providers and no regular link to a hospital, are harder to drive towards change, in part because they have more control over their own business and because the advantages are usually limited to Meaningful use incentives and whatever benefits their personally gain from the EHR they choose.  And still, 73 % of eligible professionals are registered for incentives and already over half have received a payment.  In addition, a recent HHS report observed that in the period since before HITECH was passed in 2008, the number of providers using advanced EHR technology has increased dramatically from 17 percent before HITECH to over 50 percent today. These two numbers are above the goals set out by HHS before the project began.

The area in which we see the most impressive gains are in the number of providers that are not only making the effort to use EHR technology to attest for meaningful use, but using an advanced system that has advanced features beyond stage 1 of meaningful use, including several features, such as electronic notes and imaging results, that are central requirements as part of stage 2. Forty percent of providers, up from 17% in 2008, are using such a system.

There is still a long way to go in this process. But it is clear, as more hospitals, providers, and other healthcare institutions adopt more advanced technology, that the incentives offered through HITECH have helped to do what the mere availability of advanced technology hasn’t been able to do and encourage more and more providers to embrace, or at least consider, this technology.  The advantages of using EHR technology to keep and enhance medical records have been well noted, both here and elsewhere, and it is good to see that, even if some nudging is required, that those most affected by these advantages are starting to notice.

Further Reading:

Infographic: A Record of Health Information Technology

HHS Reports Providers’ Use of Health IT Doubles Since 2012

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