Very few hospitals using EHR, says a new study

As of 2005, only between 5% to 10% of hospitals are currently using electronic health records (EHR), according to a new study.1 The researchers urge greater attention to EHR adoption by safety-net providers and others who care for underserved populations.

"Given the potential of EHRs to improve quality, ensuring access to these tools among all providers is critical to reducing disparities in health care," argues Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH, the study's lead author and assistant professor of health policy and management at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

"Our study found that the rate of EHR use in hospitals is likely extremely low," says Jha. "This will become a major barrier for improving quality in these organizations."

Most hospitals will have a very difficult time reducing errors, improving patient safety, and dramatically improving the quality of care it provides without investing in these systems, Jha explains. "Quality professionals who recognize the link between quality and EHR use know that just putting in an EHR alone will not make care better," he says. "But without an EHR, physicians, nurses, and other professionals will not have the information they need to make better care decisions."

Reference

  1. Jha AK, Ferris TG, Donelan K, et al. How common are electronic health records in the U.S.? A summary of the evidence. Health Affairs 2006;w496-w507.