Electronic Health Records

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ONC: Two thirds of physicians adopt advanced EHR capabilities

By Jennifer Bresnick

The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) has released a new data brief detailing the rapid adoption of EHR systems with one or more advanced functionalities.  While only 40% of physicians currently use EHRs with the potential to be fully certified to meet Stage 1 Meaningful Use, there have been clear gains in individual areas of EHR technology.  An average of two thirds of physicians have at least one advanced functionality in their EHR, including 80% of physicians using a system capable of computerized physician order entry (CPOE) and 73% now using e-prescribing.

Since HITECH started in 2009, the percent of physicians using e-prescribing has more than doubled, with the ONC seeing a 119% increase in online prescribing technology.  Providers’ capability to meet four other Meaningful Use Core objectives grew by 66%, and currently sits at 90%.

Between 2011 and 2012, physician adoption of technology to meet nine Meaningful Use Core objectives increased by at least 21%, with e-prescribing, CPOE, and drug interaction checks seeing the highest rates, and half of physicians currently using clinical decision support.  The ONC notes that patient engagement criteria saw strong growth, with the ability of providers to provide a clinical summary to patients now at 56%, up from 38% the year prior.

Secure messaging also enjoyed a significant bump.  In 2011, 28% of physicians could generate secure messages to patients, while 2012 saw 40% using the capability to engage with their customer base, an important step towards meeting upcoming Stage 2 engagement requirements.

The steady growth of a variety of EHR technologies is good news for the ONC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which pays out incentives based on EHR use and functionality.  “These findings represent important national progress towards the goals of improving health and healthcare through the use of advanced information technology,” say the authors of the data brief, and indicate clear gains towards patient engagement, patient safety, and overall coordination of care.




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