Thursday, July 19, 2012

A large part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act is aimed at making patients’ health records more accessible between multiple physicians, as well as between doctors and their patients. Part of this initiative has been to implement the use of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. These systems allow easy sharing and accessibility for all parties involved in making your healthcare decisions. In addition to saving time, they also reduce the number of errors sometimes made in written files.

Ideally, with the use of EHR systems you could move to a different state and it would be easier for your new doctor to receive a current file from your previous physician.

The survey was conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention to determine how prominent the use of EHR systems has become since the induction of HITECH. EHR systems do not include patients’ billing information. Practices surveyed were asked to exclude the use of electronic billing when considering whether they used EHR systems or not.

The survey found that a majority (64%) of physicians under 50 have been early adopters. The larger the practice, the more likely they were to use an EHR system 86% of practices with eleven or more physicians reported using a system. Only about a third (29%) of solo practitioners have implemented one.

Large health organizations, such as university systems, were also more inclined to have transfered their files to EHR systems while only half of physician-owned practices did the same.

By implementing the use of EHR systems, many healthcare providers are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments. Of those using this technology, approximately 77% of them are using systems that meet all HITECH’s requirements. As of June 30, 2012, more than 119,000 professionals and 3,400 hospitals have received incentive payments.