HIMSS official: 6% of hospitals still use paper records

While more hospitals have implemented electronic health records in the three years since the Meaningful Use program went into effect, there remains a wide disparity in EHR adoption, with hundreds of hospitals still just using paper records, according to HIMSS, Forbes.com reports.

John Daniels, vice president of strategic relations for HIMSS, speaking at the Association of Health Care Journalists' meeting in Denver last week, said in a panel discussion that a little more than one-third (37 percent) of U.S. hospitals are in the final, most advanced three stages of EHR use, and that nearly 3 percent are in the most advanced stage. HIMSS maintains a seven-stage framework for monitoring hospitals' use and development of EHRs, the Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM) scale.

However, 6 percent of the more than 5,400 U.S. hospitals have not yet adopted EHRs, despite the fact that they're eligible for incentive payments for using EHRs meaningfully. Daniels noted that it's the smaller, more rural hospitals that don't have the resources to invest in the systems.  

The report is consistent with other research, which has found smaller, rural hospitals and community health centers struggling to adopt EHRs and meet the Meaningful Use requirements. The research has raised concerns about whether the program will increase care disparities and if these hospitals will be able to stay afloat. 

HIMSS also recently raised concerns that while many hospitals have adopted EHRs, a good number are "stuck" in the middle stages of EHR use and not taking full advantage of their systems.

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