Hospitals nearly tripled their use of electronic health records (EHR) systems between 2010 and 2012, according to a new study co-authored by Ashish Jha of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The authors found that 44% of hospitals report having at least a basic EHR system.
“Given the size of our country, that’s amazing progress in a very short time period,” said Jha, HSPH professor of health policy and management, in a July 8, 2013 HealthDay article.
The study was one of three co-authored by Jha on the latest trends in health information technology (IT) adoption among U.S. health care providers and hospitals. Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a companion to its annual health IT report, the articles were published online July 9, 2013 in Health Affairs. Jha was one of several panelists speaking about the studies’ findings at a Health Affairs press briefing in Washington, D.C. on July 9.
One of the three studies found that office-based physicians are also increasing their use of EHRs. According to that study, the proportion of doctors using at least a basic EHR system increased from 25% to 40% between 2010 and 2012.
There is still work to be done, however. For instance, small and rural hospitals lag behind large urban institutions in EHR adoption, and only 5% of hospitals are meeting federal standards for exchanging patient data with other providers, the studies found. “The news here is mostly good, but we shouldn’t declare victory yet,” Jha said.
Jha and his colleagues believe that federal incentives to support purchase of EHR systems—and the threat of future penalties under the Affordable Care Act—have driven the increase in EHR use.