ONC: 96 percent of acute care hospitals have adopted certified EHRs

The rates of electronic health record adoption and data sharing among U.S. hospitals have increased significantly, according to a pair of new data briefs unveiled Tuesday by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT at its annual conference.

The information is based on the American Hospital Association's Information Technology supplement to the AHA annual survey. One brief shows that 96 percent of nonfederal acute care hospitals are using a certified EHR in 2015, up from 71.9 percent in 2011, the year that the Meaningful Use program was first implemented. Adoption of a basic EHR jumped from 9.4 percent in 2008 to 83.8 percent, a nine-fold increase. 

Small, rural and critical access hospitals also increased their adoption of basic EHRs, with small and rural hospitals boosting adoption by at least 14 percent, and CAHs by 18 percent. However, their adoption still lagged behind those of other hospitals. Basic EHR adoption was even lower among children's hospitals, with only a 55 percent adoption rate, and among psychiatric hospitals, where only 15 percent had done so.

The percentage of hospitals that had adopted "comprehensive" EHRs with increased levels of functionality increased from 1.6 percent in 2008 to 40 percent in 2015.

Interoperability also rose, according to ONC, although some obstacles remain. The percentage of hospitals sending clinical data electronically rose from 78 percent in 2014 to 85 percent in 2015; the percentage of those receiving such data increased from 56 percent to 65 percent. However, the percentage using or integrating the data dipped slightly, from 40 percent to 38 percent. The most common reason for not using patient health information received electronically from an outside provider is that the information was not available to view within the EHR.

Additionally technical problems continued to stymie efforts to share data. The most common barriers included the lack of the exchange partners' capabilities to receive data, challenges to exchange across different vendors' platforms, an inability to find providers' addresses and difficulty in matching or identifying patients. 

"Efforts that have focused on EHR adoption now are shifting to interoperability of health information, and the use of health information technology to support care delivery system reform," the adoption data brief summarizes. "Realizing the full value of widespread EHR adoption will require focusing on these new challenges and it will be important to shift our focus from hospital adoption of EHRs to monitoring progress in these new areas."

To learn more:
- read the adoption data brief (.pdf)
-  here's the data brief on interoperability (.pdf)