There are only three types of lies: Lies, damned lies and statistics. And in the spirit of Benjamin Disraeli (or Mark Twain or whoever actually originated that phrase) comes the annual National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from the CDC, which estimates that 43.9 percent of office-based U.S. physicians used some form of EMR or EHR in 2009. That number, considered a preliminary estimate, is up slightly from 41.5 percent in 2008. Compare and contrast that to the less than 20 percent of physicians said to be EMR users in a highly publicized New England Journal of Medicine paper in 2008.
Breaking down the numbers leads to a little more sanity. About 20.5 percent of respondents say they had a basic system capable of recording patient demographics, problem lists, clinical notes, medication orders and of viewing test results. Just 6.3 percent had fully functional EMRs, with medical histories, electronic order entry, drug interaction checking, highlighting of abnormal readings and reminders for guideline-based interventions, the CDC says.
The CDC survey is based on self-reported data, so there is always the chance for bias. I guess we won't know some real numbers until 2012, after a year of practices seeking Medicare and Medicaid bonuses for EMR use.