The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the US Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Karen DeSavlo, recently published a blog post touting the success of the electronic health records (“EHR”) incentive program. Stating that the widespread adoption of EHR technology is a “key tool” in “improving the nation’s health care system,” Ms. DeSalvo cited the results of the annual National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which reported that:
- 78 percent of office-based physicians use some EHR system.
- The percentage of physicians who reported having an EHR system that met the criteria for a basic system under the EHR incentive program increased from 11 percent in 2006 to 48 percent in 2013.
- 69 percent of physicians reported an intention to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.
However, the increase in physicians using an EHR system that qualifies as a “basic system” slowed in 2013 in comparison to previous years. The survey also revealed a wide geographic variance in adoption rates, ranging from a low of 66 percent in New Jersey to a high of 94 percent in Minnesota.
Potentially the most significant piece of information in the survey was that only 13 percent of all surveyed office-based physicians reported that they both intend to participate in Stage 2 of the federal EHR incentive payment program and currently have an EHR system “with the capabilities to support 14 of the 17 Stage 2 core set objectives for “meaningful use.” Incentive payments hinge on certain physicians (depending on when they initially entered the program) meeting Stage 2 requirements starting this year. Such physicians must meet all 17 core objectives of Stage 2 in order to receive incentive payments.