Evidence that Meaningful Use dollars drive EHR adoption piles up

Another is a series of studies on what drives EHR implementation and use has found Meaningful Use incentives are driving adoption among primary care physicians.

A whopping 95 percent of respondents reported that they're adopting EHRs to achieve Meaningful Use. Meanwhile, 53 percent said they were doing it to improve patient quality of care, according to a survey conducted by modermedicine.com.

The survey, part of an ongoing study of physician EHR use, noted that respondents had made the most progress in electronic prescribing and maintaining active medication and allergy lists, "which makes sense because both items are required to attest to meaningful use stage 1 and can be implemented as stand-alone platforms," the study pointed out. In contrast, only five percent of respondents reported any capability for health information exchange, which will be required in stage 2 beginning in 2014.

Almost all of the PCPs (89 percent) expressed concern that installation of a basic EHR will disrupt their practices and cost too much money.

The survey results of PCPs mirror studies of hospital adoption of EHRs, which researchers concluded is lower than expected and that it is driven by the bonus payments.

A Health Affairs study released last month, for example, reported that hospitals ineligible for Meaningful Use incentive payments had a "dismally low" EHR adoption rate. While 12 percent of short term acute care hospitals had at least a basic EHR system, only 6 percent of long term acute care, 4 percent of rehabilitation and 2 percent of psychiatric hospitals did so, indicating that the incentive bonus was the driver behind EHR adoption.

The study also dovetails with a recent MedPAC report that notes that participation in the Meaningful Use incentive program is lower overall than expected. Evidently the incentive payments drive adoption, but some providers are still not yet swayed. 

To learn more:
- here's the modernmedicine.com study
- read the Health Affairs abstract
- check out the MedPAC report