Karen DeSalvo, M.D., the new National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recently wrote a blog on the White House website, advocating the effectiveness of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program with supplemental, supportive data.
DeSalvo, who took office last week, said that using survey data from the 2013 version of the annual National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the Office for the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC) is seeing progress in the increased use of electronic health records (EHRs) by an assortment of providers. According to the statistics supplied by DeSalvo, 80 percent of office-based physicians say they use some type of EHR, which is an increase of 60 percent since 2004 and more than 40 percent since 2008, the year before the Health Information Technology and Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) passed as part of the Recovery Act in 2009.
In addition, the NCHS researchers say that 70 percent of office-based physicians participate in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, and about half of office-based physicians use a system that qualifies as a “basic system." Thirteen percent of physicians intend to participate in the incentive program and could comply with 14 “core set of objectives,” for Stage 2 of meaningful use. DeSalvo noted that the survey was performed in early 2013 before 2014 certified products were even available.
"Overall, we are encouraged to see that physician adoption of EHRs meeting meaningful use Stage 2 is increasing significantly and that physicians are recognizing the value of EHRs in the care setting. The report does also tell us there is more to do and we agree. Fewer than one in three respondents (30%) said their EHR facilitated acommunication with a patient via e-mail/secure instant messaging," DeSalvo wrote in the blog. She mentioned "usability and functionalities" as areas of improvement for EHR systems.