Physician EMR use tops 50 percent for first time

For the first time, more than half of office-based U.S. physicians are using some form of EMR in their practices, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Just one in 10 has what can be considered a fully functional system, though that represents a 46 percent increase from 2009.

In the newly released 2010 report, based on a survey of about 7,000 physicians, the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics says 50.7 percent of those in ambulatory practice had at least a partial EMR in place this year, up from 48.3 percent in 2009. Some 24.9 percent reported having a "basic" EMR, compared to 21.8 percent a year ago. The CDC defines a basic EMR as one capable of: recording patient history and demographic information, problem lists, clinical notes and medication lists; electronic prescribing; and displaying lab and imaging results. Anything short of that is considered a partial system.

The CDC says 10.1 percent have fully functional EMRs, which include advanced capabilities such as medical histories, CPOE, drug-drug interaction checking and guideline-based interventions. That figure is up from 6.9 percent in 2009.

For more data and analysis:
- read the CDC report
- take a look at this UPI story
- see this Wall Street Journal "Health Blog" post