Survey: More hospitals, physician offices move toward electronic health records Print
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Tuesday, 18 January 2011 14:33

A growing number of hospitals and physician offices plan to embrace electronic health record software, especially as their use becomes a requirement for certain types of Medicaid and Medicare money, according to a new series of surveys.

Eighty-one percent of U.S. hospitals responding to a survey by the American Hospital Association said they plan to meet federal guidelines in adopting electronic health records, a standard called “meaningful use.” They also plan to take advantage of incentive payments to offset the cost of switching from paper-based record systems — about 65 percent said they would enroll in the incentive programs’ Stage 1 phases this year or next.

Truman Medical Center and The University of Kansas Hospital both have said they’re close to applying for Stage 1 incentives.

The National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that 41 percent of office-based physicians responding to its survey said they, too, will meet meaningful use standards. About 80 percent of them, or about a third of all office-based physicians, said they will enroll during Stage 1.

Fourteen percent of office-based physicians responding to the NCHS survey said they did not plan to seek meaningful use casino online incentives.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the survey results late last week to coincide with the start of the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs’ registration period.

Federal legislation passed in 2009 created the requirement for use of electronic health records to receive federal Medicaid and Medicare payments. It set aside $27 billion in incentives to encourage adoption of the technology during the next 10 years. Supporters say that keeping and linking to patient information electronically reduces medical errors and cuts costs.

Office-based physicians can qualify for incentives of as much as $44,000 through Medicare and $63,750 through Medicaid. Hospitals can receive millions of dollars.

The National Center for Health Statistics survey also found that the number of primary-care physician offices that already have adopted a basic electronic health record system has increased from 19.8 percent in 2008 to 29.6 percent in 2010.

Dr. David Blumenthal, the Obama administration’s point man about health care information technology, said in a release that the surveys showed a growing acceptance of electronic health records in the medical community, which he credited to the federal legislation and the changing opinions among hospital administrators and other medical industry leaders.

“I believe we are seeing the tide turn toward widespread and accelerating adoption and use of health IT,” Blumenthal said.

North Kansas City-based Cerner Corp. (Nasdaq: CERN) is among the nation’s largest providers of electronic health care records, with $1.67 billion in 2009 revenue.



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