Another Year for the EMR

While the clichéd “year of the EMR” statement may have run its due course, adoption continues to rise at an exponential rate. The results for a recent survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics indicate that approximately 55% of doctors in the US are at some stage of EMR implementation. Health IT experts have been lauding the role played by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in promoting EMR adoption. “The ONC deserves a lot of credit for making this happen. Their work with the Regional Extension Centers (RECs) and beacon communities has really helped in increasing awareness.”, says Frank Quinn, a health IT analyst.

The survey also suggests that nearly 75% of all the physicians that have implemented an EMR solution report to have an EMR system capable of meeting the meaningful use criteria. “This indicates that the EMR technology is becoming more sustainable.”, Frank added. The CMS stimulus has been a major driver for EMR adoption. The meaningful use (MU) program has helped vendors by identifying a framework of operations. “They have not mandated a design. They have just specified the minimum requirements. I don’t see how this stifles innovation.”, says a physician attesting for Meaningful Use.

However, Bob Keaveney editorial director of Physicians Practice believes that there is nonetheless some resentment regarding standardization in healthcare. Keaveney points out that the general perception about incentive programs is that they are designed to make doctors behave in a certain way. He explains that this negativity is likely to stem from the physician’s fear of being controlled and manipulated by the government. Frank Quinn argues that while opinions vary, numbers portray a clear pattern saying, “Nearly 250,000 physicians will have attested for meaningful use by the end of this year.”

The CDC poll goes on to report that a majority (85%) of doctors were ‘somewhat’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the day to day operations of their EMRs while every 3 out of 4 physicians believed that patient care had been improved with the introduction of electronic medical records. Almost half of the physicians who had not adopted an EMR system affirmed that they were planning to adopt one in the upcoming year. Frank explains that these all are positive indications, “This should illustrate how EMRs are becoming embedded within the culture of care.”

The other report findings citied single providers to be lagging behind in adoption, with only 30% reported to be using an EMR system. The report also indentified physician age as a factor in adoption. Physicians over the age of 50 were less likely to adopt an EMR in comparison to a younger medical compatriot with respective percentages being 49 and 64.

Read more: Are EHRs more reliable than conventional paper-based systems?


One thought on “Another Year for the EMR

  1. Does the 55% of doctors ‘in some stage of adoption…’ include all the practices that know they have to do it but are afraid like crazy to proceed, afraid of the privacy issues, don’t have the money, have no clue what product will meet what part of their needs including MU?

    Is ONC doing anything to bring order out of the chaos? Put together a comparison of all the products currently out there complete with pricing information so a doctor can make an intelligent choice? Has ONC done anything to encourage hospitals and other entities to hire the people who are going through the ONC designed training programs? Created workable standards for HIE and patient portals and PHR?

    The report does note the lag in adoption of single providers. If you ask doctors why don’t they proceed, you get 1. How can I be sure of privacy? 2. I’m not a computer geek and don’t want to hire a full time tech staff for my 1 person practice. 3. I can’t afford to put out a huge up front fee and then large monthly payments in the hope that I MIGHT get the MU incentive money. 4. I keep hearing that most systems require me to spend more time on data entry then treating my patients. 5. What happens if my provider goes out of business – with all my records locked away in a database somewhere I can’t get at it? 6. I keep hearing that these systems are badly designed and won’t and can’t reflect my work flow. 7. How do I know that these systems are actually certified – and will continue to be? 8. What do I actually get for how much money? 9. I know I need or even have to implement ePrescribe, but I hear there are all sorts of problems with it.

    I could go on; there’s lots more, and doctors don’t seem to feel that most of their questions are being answered. They keep hearing horror stories, they have 20 years of still active patients – and their files, to deal with, and more. Regardless of how many more stages of MU we get, will we get any viable support and information in just getting across the starting line?

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