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Electronic Health Record Use Nearly Doubles in EDs from 2006 to 2011

ATLANTA – Despite lengthy debate on whether the government’s carrot and stick approach to electronic health record (EHR) adoption has worked, a new report demonstrates that the number of emergency department using EHRs nearly doubled in the five year period from 2006 to 2011.

In 2011, 84% of EDs used some type of EHR system, up from 46% in 2006, according to a National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From 2007 through 2011, the percentage of hospitals reporting having an EHR system that met the government criteria for a basic system increased among EDs from 19% to 54%.A basic system is defined as one that has the following functionalities: patient history and demographics, patient problem lists, physician clinical notes, comprehensive list of patients’ medications and allergies, computerized orders for prescriptions, and ability to view laboratory and imaging results electronically.

The policy brief notes that the HITECH Act of 2009 gave hospitals monetary incentives to adopt EHR systems if they met federal standards of “meaningful use” of EHRs in three stages. By2011, 14% of EDs had EHR technology able to support nine Stage 1 Meaningful Use objectives.

Over the 5-year period, EDs with an EHR system able to support Stage 1 objectives increased for these four objectives:

  • providing warnings of drug interactions or contraindications (from 28% to 43%),
  • providing reminders for guideline-based interventions (from 28% to 40%),
  • ordering prescriptions (from 39% to 63%), and
  • recording patient problem list (from 45% to 65%)

In 2011, EDs with an EHR system able to support Stage 1 Meaningful Use objectives ranged from 40% (providing reminders for guideline-based interventions) to 87% (recording patient demographics).

Study authors note that their review is limited because to receive Meaningful Use incentive payments, hospitals have to meet 14 core set objectives and 5 of 10 menu set objectives. NHAMCS only measures 9 of 14 objectives, according to this report.

The increased use of EHRs notwithstanding, the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services announced late last year that about 200 hospitals began receiving penalties for failing to meet meaningful use standards for EHRs as of Oct. 1, 2014.