More than half of doctors in the country are now using electronic health records, according to the latest data brief from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
According to the brief, 55 percent of physicians had adopted EHRs by the end of 2011, and half of those providers who hadn't will (or already have) purchase one within the year. Of those physicians who have an EHR, 77 percent of them reported that their system meets the criteria of the Meaningful Use incentive program, and 85 percent are either somewhat or very satisfied with those systems.
The benefits most noted to having an EHR were in providing enhanced patient care, the ability to access a patient's chart remotely, and being alerted to "critical lab values," according to the report.
Some of the findings proved consistent with other studies on EHR adoption. For example, younger physicians were more likely to have an EHR, with 64 percent of doctors under 50 reporting such adopting. The proportion of physicians who had an EHR also increased as the size of the practice increased.
Interestingly, the study didn't find much difference in adoption between primary care physicians (58 percent) and specialists (55 percent). Physicians still seemed more comfortable with a self contained system (59 percent) rather than a web-based one (41 percent).
The NCHS periodically reviews the use of EHRs to see if the HITECH Act is meeting its goal of advancing the use of EHR technology. In its November 2011 report, revised February 2012, NCHS found that 52 percent of EHR users intended to apply for meaningful use incentives, up from 41 percent in 2012. However, the NCHS reports don't address some of the problems physicians are encountering with EHRs or how may of them have actually successfully attested and received incentive payments.