Pace of EHR adoption quickening, at ‘tipping point’

By BenefitsPro

By Kathryn Mayer

A record number of doctors and hospitals are embracing health technology and adoption of electronic health records has reached a “tipping point,” the Obama administration said this week.

Electronic health record use by doctors increased from 17 percent to more than 50 percent between 2008 and this year, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

The rise was even more dramatic among hospitals; now more than 80 percent are using EHRs, up from 9 percent in 2008.

The huge increase is in part due to billions of dollars in government incentives. The federal health agency said more than 291,000 eligible professionals and 3,800 eligible hospitals have received incentive payments from the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs as of April.

The new data finds the agency ahead of schedule in its goals for EHR adoption. In March, the administration announced a major push to prioritize the adoption of health information technology in the health care industry in 2013, and said it aimed to have half of all physician office using EHRs by this year’s end.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the adoption is “critical to modernizing our health care system.”

The hope is that health IT systems give doctors, hospitals and other providers the ability to better coordinate care and reduce errors and readmissions that can cost more money.

Still, EHR adoption has not been as fast as many have hoped, as many doctors have had a hard time accepting and using the technology. Some have argued that ongoing evolution of health IT will take the focus off patient care, and other doctors have cited imperfect electronic systems, patient safety and too many errors as reasons to avoid EHR.

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