by Linda G. Rodrigue

untitled

Two recent studies published by the office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (the “ONC”) suggest that the use of electronic health records among physicians and hospitals has greatly increased. The study is based on information collected in calendar year 2013.

According to ONC, approximately 78% of office-based physicians have adopted some form of electronic health record. Almost 50% of these record systems have advanced functionalities. Similarly, ONC reported that almost 60% of hospitals had adopted EHR systems with advance functional capabilities by 2013, a 400% increase since calendar year 2010.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) believes that these findings are the result of the “meaningful use” program. Meaningful use is a program that incentivizes Medicare payments for using electronic technology in the performance of certain functions (for example, electronic prescribing). Meaningful use has been introduced in stages. Stage 1 involved more “in-house” electronic functionality, while Stage 2 addresses sharing information with other entities. There is still, according to HHS, a great need for improvement in Stage 2 implementation.

Karen DeSalvo, M.D., MPH, who heads the ONC, stated recently that HHS continues to focus on the goal of “an interoperable health system that enables nationwide health information exchange.”