Adoption of Electronic Health Records Marks End of Paper Charts

Tony Berberabe, MPH
Published Online: Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Nearly 72% of office-based physician practices were using electronic health records (EHRs) in 2012, marking the slow and eventual decline of paper medical charts, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics. From 2007 through 2012, use of any type of EHR system increased across all physician and practice categories, with the exception of HMO-owned practices.

Chung-Ju Hsiao, PhD, MHS, from the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality and Esther Hing, MPH, and Jill Ashman, PhD, from the National Center for Health Statistics report in the May 2014 issue of the “National Health Statistics Report,” that in 2011, 57% of office-based practices were using EHRs, which in turn was up from 34.8% in 2007.

It would seem the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act that authorized incentive payments through Medicare and Medicaid contributed to the widespread adoption and in the increase in EHR use. Starting in 2011, eligible Medicare physicians could receive up to $44,000 over 5 years. Medicaid physicians could receive up to $63,000 over a 6-year period that could begin as late as 2016 and run through 2021.

The researchers report that use of any type of EHR system was higher among primary care physicians than nonprimary care physicians. In 2012, 74.9% of primary care physicians used any type of EHR system, while 66.5% of physicians with surgical specialties and 70.7% of physicians with medical specialties used any type of EHR system.

Hsiao, et al, explored the use of 3 types of EHRs: any type of EHR system, a basic system, and a fully functional system. They report that from 2007 through 2012, use of any type of EHR system and adoption of a basic system both increased in all physician specialties and practice size. A widened gap in the adoption of fully functional systems by practice size (practices with 11 or more physicians compared with solo practitioners) and by specialty (primary care compared with nonprimary care) was observed starting in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The researchers concluded that rate of EHR adoption continue to vary based on certain physician and practice characteristics, such as practice size and specialty.
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