The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) may have surpassed their goal of 100,000 providers attaining meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs) by the end of 2012, but according to a recent study by UBM Medica adoption of EHRs has been slow.
The report, entitled "EHR: Slow but Steady Adoption in Physician Offices," concludes that although physician use of EHRs has grown steadily in recent years, incentives haven't worked as desired to speed implementation and most physicians remain critical of EHR costs and usability. A narrow majority of practices (53 percent) surveyed said that financial incentives have not made them more likely to buy an EHR.
Common physician complaints about EHRs remain, including the expense, the difficulty of scanning charts and accessing information, and an excess of upgrades that have little to no clinical value. Twenty-two percent of physician respondents are on their second EHR, having given up on making their first one work. Even among those physicians who admit the system has made their practice more efficient, more than half claim not to have seen a return on investment.
The report argues that most physician adoption of EHRs has come by way of hospital acquisition or partnership: "The trend coincides with increasing hospital acquisition or collaboration with practices."