Reasons for geographic disparities in EHR adoption 'unclear'

While electronic health record adoption by physicians continues to grow, it is still unknown exactly why it varies so significantly from state to state, according to a Stateline/Philadelphia Inquirer article.

The article, reviewing recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, notes that adoption rates of a basic EHR range from a whopping 83 percent in North Dakota to 21 percent in New Jersey. The other states that were higher than the national average were Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

In contrast, eight states, including some progressive, populous, were below the national average of 48 percent: Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. Connecticut had the second lowest adoption rate, at 30 percent.

It was "unclear" why such disparities existed among states, according to the article, although it speculates that it may be due to the age of physicians, their specialty and the size of their practices. The Government Accountability Office has noted that younger physicians, those in primary care and doctors in larger group practices were more likely to embrace EHRs.

Not addressed are other variables that could affect EHR adoption in a given state, such as a the available assistance of a state's regional extension center, the extent of EHR donation programs being offered by nearby hospitals, or the prevailing culture for or against EHRs in a particular area.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has noted the significant geographic variation in first time Meaningful Use attesters, suggesting that the disparity may be due to vendor penetration in different markets, patient engagement in personal health records and/or states' sophistication in using public health IT interventions, such as registries.

To learn more:
- read the article