Survey: Older, wealthier patients more likely to see docs with EMRs

The conventional wisdom is that younger doctors are more likely to use EMRs than their more senior counterparts--at least when the relative newcomers have a say in the buying decision. But does patient age matter when it comes to EMR adoption? A new survey seems to suggest just that.

In a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media on behalf of EMR vendor Practice Fusion, nearly 53 percent of those over the age of 65 reported that their primary-care physicians kept records electronically of their last visit, compared to just 40 percent in the 24 to 34 age group. Overall, 48 percent of respondents said their primary-care physicians had EMRs, seemingly backing up estimates by the American Academy of Family Physicians, which has said for several years that perhaps half of all family practitioners were using EMRs.

Affluence also seems to play a role in adoption. For patients with annual incomes above $50,000, physician EMR use was 53 percent. Only 45 percent of those who make less than $20,000 a year reported that their doctors had EMRs, according to the survey.

Among those whose physicians had EMRs, about 45 percent report that the switch from paper happened in the last two years.

The Practice Fusion report also suggests that the health IT industry has undergone rapid growth in the past year, adding 100,000 new jobs since the Feb. 17, 2009, signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. "I see the change in the exponential growth of our company. Doctors see it through the availability of innovative new technology. Educators see it through grants and the creation of new health IT courses. Patients see it in their doctor's office," Practice Fusion CEO Ryan Howard says in a company statement.

For more information:
- have a look at this Practice Fusion press release
- download this Practice Fusion white paper
- read health economist Jane Sarasohn-Kahn's take at the Health Populi blog