EMR and HIE see big adoption numbers

Electronic lab orders also on the rise, especially compared to other countries

The number of U.S. physicians using electronic medical records has topped 90 percent, and nearly half of the doctors polled for a new Accenture survey say they now use health information exchange technology – an uptick of 32 percent.

The Accenture poll – which queried the health IT usage of 3,700 physicians in the U.S., Canada, England, France, Germany, Spain, Singapore and Australia – found that 93 percent of American docs are now using EMRs, and that 45 percent said they routinely access clinical data from outside their own organization.

U.S. physicians have posted the most impressive increase in adoption, showing a 32 percent annual increase in the routine use of health IT capabilities, compared to an average increase of 15 percent among doctors in the other countries surveyed, according to the survey.

American doctors said they "routinely" do e-prescribing (65 percent) and enter patient notes into EMRs (78 percent), representing a 34 percent annual increase. These physicians also use IT for basic clinical tasks, such as receiving alerts while seeing patients (45 percent).

Interestingly more than half of U.S. doctors (57 percent) said they regularly using electronic lab orders, representing a 21 percent annual increase – compared to 6 percent decline globally. Most U.S. physicians surveyed (62 percent) also receive their clinical results, such as lab tests, directly into their EMR system, a 24 percent annual increase.

Worldwide, the majority of physicians said EMR and HIE have had a positive impact on their practice, citing benefits such as reductions in medical errors (76 percent) and improvements in the quality of data for clinical research (74 percent).

That said, U.S. doctors were the least likely (38 percent) to report that using EMR and HIE reduced their organization’s costs. They also said that cost was the single greatest barrier to technology adoption.

Despite those hurdles, the numbers seem to tell a clear story: "The digital doctor is in – and is here to stay," according to the Accenture report.

“U.S. doctors are increasingly embracing EMR and HIE, which enables virtual integration outside a single medical office,” said Mark Knickrehm, Accenture’s global managing director, in a press statement.

This trend, he added "strongly supports a patient-centered approach to care and reinforces the progress physicians are making" as they strive to meet meaningful use requirements and adjust to the reforms laid out by the Affordable Care Act.

Access the report here.

[See also: EMR jobs going gangbusters]