More physicians are adopting EMRs

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By Ken Kern, Vice President of MediMatrix, a division of WebInterstate

New stats from a survey by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show the number of physicians using electronic medical records (EMRs) more than doubled in just three years. Overall 55% of physicians in office-based practices now use EMRs. And of the 45% who still use paper charts, half say they’ll switch to electronic record-keeping within the next 12 months. Only 25% of practices used EMRs in 2008.

These are significant findings. Not only are physicians and medical care facilities adhering to the federal government’s mandate that all patient records should be web-based, they’re beginning to realize the benefits of EMRs. In fact, about 75% of physicians responding to the new survey believe the ability to keep records and track updates online has enhanced overall patient care.

Other key findings include:

  • 85% of physicians who have adopted EMRs say they’re very satisfied (38%) or somewhat satisfied (47%) with their systems while 15% were either very dissatisfied (5%) or somewhat dissatisfied (10%) with EMRs
  • 64% of doctors using EMRs are under 50
  • 86% of practices with 11 or more physicians have adopted electronic files while only 29% of solo practice physicians have done so

The Federal Government’s push for nationwide adoption of electronic medical records is a result of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009. The HITECH Act provides Medicare and Medicaid incentives to physicians and hospitals that demonstrate “meaningful use” of EMR systems. “Meaningful use” is simply an umbrella term that refers to rules and regulations doctors and facilities must meet in order to qualify for federal reimbursement. The government says it’s all about improving the quality, safety, and efficiency of patient care.

The new CDC research shows more physicians are adopting this new technology. As for the deadline for all medical providers to begin using EMRs, that’s still a bit of a moving target, but the government still hopes for 100% compliance within the next two years.

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