Are EHRs at a tipping point?

By Diana Manos
01:59 PM

Despite the progress, all the hype, and the billions of federal dollars paid out in incentives, a question lingers: Where do things stand right now with EHR adoption?

This is the most exciting time to be working in the field, according to Boston Children’s Hospital HIM director Mary Radley.

“I never really interacted with physicians in the way we do today when we were [working] with paper records,” Radley said in the March Journal of AHIMA cover story Healthcare reaches the EHR tipping point. “It’s been rewarding that they’re getting it.”

As Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services said last year, the 50 percent of eligible professionals and 80 percent of eligible hospitals having received meaningful use incentives marks that tipping point.

“The heavy adoption of EHRs by providers is a significant milestone,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon in a prepared statement, adding that it “can contribute to improved patient outcomes at reduced costs.”

And that, of course, is the threshold: The triple aim of better care for patients and populations at a lower cost.

Which is not to say the progress has been made without difficulties or that the U.S. healthcare system has achieved that endpoint. 

“We’re seeing a lot of marginal systems, for those that are functional, they’ve been implemented too fast, and for those that haven’t been implemented too fast, they’ve been configured and adjusted too little,” said William Bria, MD, co-founder and president of the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS), in the article.

That’s why Gordon added that “a key component” moving forward will be “establishing information governance principles to ensure the information is accurate, appropriately accessible and actionable.”

Because everything that has and still will go into fueling electronic health records adoption as the digitization of America’s healthcare system will ultimately be about so much more than the EHR itself.

“It’s really about every American having access to their health information,” national coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD, said in the Government Health IT story Breaking out of the EHR box. “Our job is not to get stuck in that EHR box. It’s not about the EHR, it’s about patients having access to their data.”