EHR adoption flying high

Family physicians, Utah practitioners among top adopters

Family physicians are adopting electronic health records (EHRs) at a much faster rate than previous data suggested, reaching a nearly 70 percent adoption rate nationwide, new study findings reveal. 

The study, published in the January/February issue of the Annals of Family Medicine, shows EHR adoption by family physicians has doubled since 2005, with researchers estimating that the adoption rate will exceed 80 percent by the end of 2013.
 
Findings also reveal a higher percentage of EHR adoption among physicians in comparison to a July 2012 study conducted by the CDC's Center for National Health Statistics, which reported that 55 percent of office-based physicians had adopted EHRs.
 
[See also: Pediatricians fall behind EHR adoption.]
 
EHR adoption rates among family physicians, however, have also been shown to be higher than other office-based specialties. One November study, for example, reported that pediatricians had some of the lowest adoption rates of EHR systems, with a paltry 41 percent indicating they had EHRs. 
 
Researchers also point to geographical differences in EHR adoption rates. Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon and Utah, for example, had significantly higher adoption rates in comparison to states with much lower numbers such as Florida, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. 
 
According to study co-author Andrew Bazemore, MD, director of the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Primary Care, report findings offer "some encouragement that we have passed a critical threshold," HealthDay reported. 
 
Utah family physicians had the highest EHR adoption rates in the country, pegged at nearly 95 percent statewide, according to the study, but Bazemore said, "More work is needed, including better information from all of the states."
 
North Dakota ranked lowest among the 50 states, with an overall EHR adoption rate of only 47 percent. 
 
The study was conducted by researchers at the Association of American Medical Colleges, Georgetown University Medical Center, National Center for Health Statistics, University of Colorado Denver, The Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care and Medstar Franklin Square Hospital.