Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two reports, one conclusion: EHRs need more support in implementation

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by Josh Kaplan

A report released today by AmericanEHR partners is not the first to highlight major shortfalls in EHR uptake across physician practices. It’s not even the first this week. A study by healthcare research firm SK&A, released Tuesday, provides more cause for concern.

Physicians have until 2015 to make 'meaningful use' of 
EHR systems
Most of the findings from both reports are predictable: EHR uptake is proving more difficult in smaller practices with fewer physicians; double the number of patients and you double the level of adoption; satisfaction is higher wherever the respondent has been involved in the EHR selection process.  No surprises in the bulk of the findings.

However, some of the stand-out statistics are genuinely shocking:

(1) 21% of physician offices are unaware of EHR government incentives.

These incentives, provided for by the 2009 stimulus package, include $64,000 dollars over six years for Medicaid and $44,000 over five years for Medicare. Physicians become eligible for the incentive by demonstrating ‘meaningful use’ of EHR Technology.  

(2) 73% of physician offices without an EHR have not determined any time frame for EHR adoption.

In 2015, hospitals and doctors become subject to financial penalties through Medicare if they have not adopted electronic health records, yet the vast majority have not even considered a timeframe for implementation.

(3) 49% of respondent physicians received less than the 3-5 days recommended training on EHR systems.

Moving from adoption to meaningful use and ultimately to genuine added value requires proper training and this is not being received by half of the physicians responding.

As 2012 approaches, the majority of physicians’ offices remain disengaged and ill informed. Even those that have adopted EHRs are not providing sufficient training to make the systems effective.

If EHR adoption is to reach targeted levels, it’s vital that those implementing the systems know when, why and how they should do it. That means having a timescale for implementation, knowledge of the incentives and penalties and ultimately, a plan to properly train the end user.