Rhode Island report first to measure statewide healthcare IT use

By Bernie Monegain
11:00 AM

The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) has released two reports that show how nearly 40 percent of its physicians use health information technology on a regular basis.

Rhode Island is the first state in the country to measure healthcare IT use and to publish the findings.

Nearly 40 percent of Rhode Island physicians report using electronic clinical information systems to help care for their patients, the report shows.

In addition, about 25 percent of physicians transmit their prescriptions electronically, or e-prescribe.

"One of the State's healthcare priorities is to use HIT to increase the efficient delivery of patient care," said HEALTH Public Reporting Program Director Samara Viner-Brown. "These data help us to see how many physicians are actually using HIT. Patients can see if their physician uses electronic medical records or can find a physician who uses electronic medical records."

The survey reflects a three-year collaboration to encourage physician reporting in Rhode Island. In 1998, a legislative mandate required HEALTH to publicly report healthcare quality for licensed providers.  In 2006, the law was expanded to include reports from individual physicians.

HEALTH and public reporting partner Quality Partners of Rhode Island (Quality Partners) identified HIT adoption as a local priority and developed the survey to assess physicians' technology use.

"Rhode Island becomes part of a growing national trend to measure and report how physicians provide care," says Quality Partners' Physician Consultant Deidre Gifford MD, one of the survey's lead authors. "One thing that distinguishes our reporting program is the work of our healthcare community to align the public reporting with payment reform and direct assistance to practices in improving care delivery. When those three pieces of the puzzle are all aligned, we expect to see dramatic changes in the way that care is delivered and improved satisfaction among consumers and providers."

The Rhode Island Quality Institute (RIQI) will use the survey results to evaluate local trends in HIT adoption. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and UnitedHealthCare of New England plan to use the survey's results to guide their HIT-based incentive programs.

"We're pleased to have worked with HEALTH and Quality Partners to measure Rhode Island's progress towards HIT adoption," said RIQI President and CEO Laura Adams. "While we understand that technology is not a cure-all, it is certainly a critical foundation for so many of our efforts to improve healthcare quality, safety, and value."