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CDC Data Show Slight Increase in Physician EHR Use in 2015

Office-based physician EHR use increased modestly between 2014 and 2015, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Physician EHR use by specialty

Source: Thinkstock

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- According to the 2015 National Electronic Health Records Survey, 86.9 percent of all office-based physician use an EHR system, 53.9 percent a basic EHR system, and 77.9 percent a certified EHR system (i.e., certified EHR technology or CEHRT).

The data come from a survey of 10,302 physicians with the goal of providing national and state-level EHR statistics on office-based providers. The division of CDC conducted the survey between August and December 2015 with an unweighted response rate of 51.9 percent.

The most recent data on physician EHR use represent a modest increase over the previous year. Findings from the 2014 National Electronic Health Records Survey put the national average of office-based physicians using an EHR system at 82.8 percent, a basic EHR at 50.5 percent, and a certified EHR system at 74.1 percent.

As for the differences between systems, the National Center for Health Statistics offers the following note:

A basic system is a system that has all of the following functionalities: patient history and demographics, patient problem lists, physician clinical notes, comprehensive lists of patients’ medications and allergies, computerized orders for prescriptions, and the ability to view laboratory and imaging results electronically. A certified system was defined by physicians answering “yes” to having a current system that “meets meaningful use criteria defined by the Department of Health and Human Services.”

Available 2014 statistics focus on EHR data by state with Minnesota leading the way with 97.1 percent of office-based physician reported using any EHR system and 88.6 percent a certified EHR technology. Meanwhile, Alaska office-based physicians recorded the lowest percentage of providers using a certified EHR system at 58.8 percent despite the state on the whole (73.6%) outstripping Florida (72.3%), Louisiana (72.2%), and Rhode Island (70.9%) in terms of using any EHR system.

In 2015, the percentage of Alaska office-based physicians using a certified EHR system jumped to 71.2 percent, surpassing Georgia (69.3%), Hawaii (70.8%), Louisiana (69.3%), New Jersey (61.6%), and Rhode Island (69.0). The Garden State reported the lowest percentage of certified EHR technology use among office-based physicians.

On the other end of the spectrum, South Dakota led the way with 90.4 percent of office-based physicians using a certified EHR system, followed by Massachusetts (89.9%), Colorado (89.6%), North Carolina (89.4%), and Minnesota (88.9%).

Unique to the 2015 National Electronic Health Records Survey, National Center for Health Statistics reported physician EHR use by specialty.

Across the three categories (any, basic, and certified EHR system), primary care outscored non-primary care (e.g., surgical, medical) physicians: 89.6 percent, 57.9 percent, and 80.9 percent to 84.4 percent, 50.1 percent, and 75.1 percent, respectively.

Under the any EHR system category, physicians specializing in cardiovascular disease reported the highest percentage of EHR users (95.6%), followed by neurology (94.5%), orthopedic surgery (93.2%), and general/family medicine (92.7%). Psychiatry was the specialty with the lowest percentage of physician EHR users at 61.3 percent.

Under the basic EHR system category, neurology led the way by a significant margin over otolaryngology (68.0%), general/family medicine (66.1%), orthopedic surgery (64.6%), and cardiovascular disease (64.4%). Conversely, dermatology (21.3%) and ophthalmology (22.8%) were significantly below the average for all physicians (53.9%).

And under the certified EHR system category, urology (92.6%), neurology (89.9%), orthopedic surgery (86.6%), general/family medicine (84.0%), and cardiovascular disease (83.2%) represent the top-five specialties. On the flip side, psychiatry scored lowest for physician certified EHR technology use at 40.8 percent — nearly half the national average of 77.9 percent.

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