Seniors Should Heed Study Showing Electronic
Health Records Benefit Patients and Physicians
Majority of physicians said they were
alerted to a potential medication error or critical lab value by an
electronic health record; one-third say they help spot needed tests;
Medicare offers physicians incentive
By Sharyn Alden, HBNS Contributing Writer
Jan. 2, 2014 – Senior citizens – the age group most
in need of medical care, often from chronic problems – should check to
see if their doctors are using electronic health records (EHRs). It may
save their life. A new study in Health Services Research finds
nearly three-quarters of physicians using EHRs in 2011 said there
were clinical benefits when patients’ medical histories were kept in
The study focused on doctors’ perceptions of
clinical benefits to patient care when EHRs were in place.
Jennifer King, Ph.D., chief of research and
evaluation at the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health
Information Technology and lead author of the study, explained that
physicians with longer experience using EHRs were more likely to report
Researchers looked at the responses from 3,180
physicians to the Physician Workflow Survey questionnaire about their
experiences with EHRs.
“A majority of physicians said they were alerted to
a potential medication error or critical lab value and about one-third
reported that EHRs helped them identify needed lab tests or facilitated
direct communication with patients,” said King.
The study’s findings may open up new opportunities
for more doctors to gain health IT benefits. King said Stage 2 of the
Meaningful Use program, which provides incentives from the Centers for
Medicare & Medicaid Services for EHRs, includes policies designed to
enhance the use of EHRs to exchange data between providers and give
patients access to their health records.
“These policies may increase the rate at which
physicians are able to use their EHRs to realize benefits such as not
ordering duplicate lab tests and identifying needed tests,” said King.
Wide Variation in
Adoption of Electronic Health Records
A study in Health Services Research
earlier this year found wide geographic variation in the
adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) by ambulatory
health care sites, ranging from a high of 88 percent to a low of
just 8 percent. Ambulatory care are health services provided on
an outpatient basis to those who visit a hospital or another
health care facility and depart after treatment on the same day.
>> In 2011, 30
percent of ambulatory health care settings, accounting for 43
percent of outpatient providers, used electronic health records.
>> Providers in
large metropolitan areas were less likely to have implemented
electronic health records than providers in smaller metro and
health care sites in areas with higher concentrations of
minorities and lower income populations were slightly less
likely to have implemented electronic health records.
Mickey McGlynn, chair of the Electronic Health
Record Association and senior director of strategy and operations for
Siemens Healthcare said “The study reinforces our view that meaningful
use of EHR technologies can deliver clinical benefits and improve
McGlynn pointed out that the majority of care
delivery in the U.S is provided in office settings with ten or fewer
physicians and these environments have fewer resources to support health
Medicare and Medicaid
Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Programs
The Medicare and
Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs provide incentive payments to
eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access
hospitals (CAHs) as they adopt, implement, upgrade or
demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology.
can receive up to $44,000 through the Medicare EHR Incentive
Program and up to $63,750 through the Medicaid EHR Incentive
Official CMS website
“Because of that, they have historically been late
adopters of EHRs. Successful EHR adoption requires provider organization
to integrate technology into their workflows and to adjust workflows
over time to support their practices and specialties,” he said.
McGlynn added that the study may help those
reluctant to invest in EHR technology to realize that benefits may not
be achieved quickly but can be over time.
“EHR adoption is a journey not a destination All
stakeholders must collaborate to ensure that requirements to achieve
both benefits and incentives are practical and do not add unnecessary
burdens to busy providers who must make patient care their top
priority,” according to McGlynn.
Source: Health Behavior News Service, part
of the Center for Advancing Health, and Research Source: Health Services
Health Services Research is the official
journal of the Academy Health and is published by John Wiley & Sons,
Inc. on behalf of the Health Research and Educational Trust.
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