More than three-quarters of U.S. hospitals had adopted at least a basic electronic health record (EHR) system by the end of 2014, according to a new study published in Health Affairs.
For the study, researchers from the University of Michigan, the American Hospital Association (AHA), HHS, and several other institutions analyzed data from AHA's Annual Survey of Hospitals-IT Supplement from 2008 to 2014, which is sent to the CEO of every hospital in the country.
Overall, the researchers found the percentage of U.S. hospitals that had adopted at least a basic EHR system increased 16 percentage points between 2013 and 2014.
Specifically, the study showed that between 2013 and 2014:
- Basic EHR adoption rates increased from about 33.5% to about 41%; and
- Comprehensive EHR adoption rates increased from 25.5% to about 34%.
Further, the researchers noted that hospitals' adoption of basic and comprehensive EHRs varied by location, ownership, size, and teaching status.
According to the study, large-sized hospitals were the most likely to have a comprehensive EHR system. Such systems were more common at not-for-profit hospitals than for-profit and public hospitals, and at urban hospitals than rural hospitals. Medium-sized hospitals were more likely than small-sized hospitals to have a basic EHR system.
Meanwhile, rural hospitals (at about 34%), small hospitals (at 30%), and critical access hospitals (at 32%) were all more likely to have a less-than-basic EHR system. By comparison, about 20% of urban, medium, and non-critical access hospitals had a less-than-basic EHR system, while only about 15% of large hospitals had such a system.
However, the researchers noted that most of the 25% of hospitals lacking even a basic EHR system were close to adoption. They wrote that several of those hospitals had adopted some features in a basic EHR but were missing functions such as:
- The ability to view discharge summaries;
- The ability to view diagnostic test results; and
- Physician notes.
Meaningful use findings
The researchers attributed the uptick in EHR adoption rates to the meaningful use program's financial incentives and penalties.
The researchers found that about 40% of hospitals could meet all 16 core objectives for meaningful use Stage 2, an increase from about 6% in 2013.
The researcher concluded, "Our findings suggest that close to 100% hospital adoption of basic EHRs is possible in the near future" (Heath, EHR Intelligence, 11/12; Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 11/12; AHA News, 11/11; Adler-Milstein et al., Health Affairs, November 2015).
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