More than 80 percent of ambulatory docs using EHRs

The number of physicians adopting electronic health records continues to rise, with more than eight of 10 ambulatory care physicians using an EHR, according to a data brief from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

The brief, based on ONC's annual National Electronic Health Record Survey, reports that EHR use increased more than 4 percent from 2013, and that almost three quarters of EHR users were using a certified EHR in 2014, regardless of their participation in the Meaningful Use program. While nearly two-thirds of the respondents applied or planned to apply to the Meaningful Use program, of the remaining 38 percent, almost half of them (47 percent) said they still used a certified EHR.

ONC also pointed out that EHR adoption was more common among primary care physicians, larger practices and those affiliated with an HMO or medical center.

However, there still were some disparities. For instance, less than two thirds of solo practitioners had adopted an EHR; of those, slightly more than half had adopted a certified EHR.

In a related blog post touting the findings, Talisha Searcy, ONC's director of research and evaluation for the office of evaluation and analysis, explained why it's important for ONC to monitor such adoption.

"By tracking certified health IT adoption, we will be able to monitor the adoption of technology designed to promote interoperability and improve the flow of patient health information between care providers," Searcy said. "As the nation moves toward achieving an interoperable health system that allows health information to travel with the patient, tracking this measure will help us understand where and why gaps exist in health information exchange capabilities and use this knowledge to better target those areas of need."

Neither the data brief nor the blog post address whether physicians are happy using their EHRs. While a recent survey from the American Medical Association indicates that physician satisfaction with their systems is dropping, other studies have found that satisfaction is increasing, perhaps in part because vendors have become more responsive to customer requests and because physicians now are replacing their original systems with those that better meet their needs.

To learn more:
- here's the data brief (.pdf)
- read the blog post