Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

Most ambulatory docs able to exchange prescription, lab data

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- A majority of office-based physicians can view lab results and send medication data electronically, according to a new study by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). Additionally, one-third of ambulatory care physicians are capable of sending and/or receiving patient clinical summaries from other providers, a key component of future phases of the EHR Incentive Programs beginning with Stage 2 Meaningful Use.

The findings appear in a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care are based on data from the 2011 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) Electronic Medical Record Supplement conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The lead author of the study and a senior advisor to the ONC, Vaishali Patel was encouraged by the findings. “The results of this study are encouraging because they show that a majority of physicians who use electronic health records (EHRs) can electronically exchange test results, medication data and clinical care summaries with patients, all of which are integral to better care coordination and ultimately necessary for universal interoperability,” he said in a public statement.

Here’s breakdown of some of the “topline findings” as reported by the ONC:

• 55 percent of all physicians had computerized capability to send prescriptions electronically versus 78 percent of physicians with an EHR.

• 67 percent of all physicians could view electronic lab results versus 87 percent of physicians with an EHR.

• 42 percent could incorporate lab results into their EHR versus 73 percent of physicians with an EHR.

• 35 percent could send an electronic order to a lab versus 54 percent of physicians with an EHR.

• 38 percent could provide clinical summaries to patients versus 61 percent of physicians with an EHR.

• 31 percent exchanged patient clinical summaries with another provider versus 49 percent of physicians with an EHR.

In the study, the authors point to the meaningful use as well as other government programs as potential drivers of the adoption of health IT systems and services. Moreover, the implementation of models of accountable care also plays an important role.

Specifically, accountable care organizations, which allow entities to share cost savings, may create a business case for HIE by giving providers greater financial incentives to exchange information regarding their patients with each other. Additionally, financial penalties for high hospital readmission rates, for example, may spur greater care coordination between hospitals and ambulatory care providers to better manage transitions of care through the use of care summaries.

Read the complete study here. Read the ONC statement here.

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