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Pediatricians Use EHRs; Don't Qualify for Meaningful Use

December 30, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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A new study has determined that while more pediatricians are using electronic health record (EHR) systems than ever before, qualifying for meaningful use is another story altogether. 
The study, from researchers at Vanderbilt University, examined the prevalence and functionalities of EHRs in pediatric offices. They used a survey from the American Academy of Pediatrics to 1,621 pediatricians and found an increase in EHR adoption from 58 percent in 2009 to 79 percent in 2012. 
However, only 31 percent of pediatricians surveyed used an EHR with basic functionalities and a meager 14 percent of pediatricians used an EHR with advanced functionalities. Fewer than half of those surveyed had applied for Stage 1 of meaningful use. Pediatricians in smaller, one-to-two physician practices, were less likely to have an EHR. Younger physicians were more likely to be using an EHR. 
As the researchers note, pediatricians have a different path to meaningful use than most doctors. They have to report through their respective states and need 20 percent of their encounters must be Medicaid encounters. Those who fell into this bracket were more likely to have an EHR with advanced functionalities, such as weight-based dosing and tracking immunizations. Most pediatricians lacked in data sharing functionalities, according to the survey. 
Regarding patient access, less than 40 percent support the idea of patients going online to see their medical records and ordering refills. An even smaller number, 14 percent, supported patients making changes to their records online. 
Pediatricians were split on the benefits to EHRs. Half of them said they were necessary to perform better care and 32 percent said they were not. Most said it either had a positive impact or no impact on the quality of their clinical decisions, rather than a negative impact. The numbers were divided among old and young physicians, and many in the older bracket (58 percent) said implementation of an EHR was better left up to someone that was younger than them. 
The research was published in a recent issue of Pediatrics

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