EHR non-adoption rate stands at 9%, study finds

March 12, 2015

Electronic health records (EHR) use has steadily increased among office-based physicians since the passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, but new studies indicate that the number of physicians who don’t or plan to participate is substantial.

Electronic health records (EHR) use has steadily increased among office-based physicians since the passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, but new studies indicate that the number of physicians who don’t or plan to participate is substantial.

A new study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine seeks to reveal more information about those physicians to  understand better why they don’t participate and what effect their lack of participation has on their business.

The survey sample included 3,437 physicians, mostly in primary care. In 2011, 44% of those polled had an EHR system that met basic criteria, with another 19% adopting basic EHR systems between 2011 and 2013.

By 2013, 20% more were in process of implementation, and another 8% planned implementation within the next two years, according to the report. Nine percent had no plans to adopt an EHR system. That 9% consisted mostly of older physicians and those most likely to work in independent or solo practices. Most non-adopters also used fee-for-service as their primary compensation and were less likely to participate in incentives focused on continuity and quality of care, or chronic and complex patient management.

Related:Satisfaction with EHR systems grows among physicians

“Persistent non-adopters in small, isolated practices may be facing a unique set of challenges that limits their ability to adopt an EHR,” writes Mathematica researcher Catherine DesRoches, PhD. “Failure to address the needs of these physicians has implications beyond adoption because new models of health care delivery require the use of an EHR.” DesRoches says non-adopters may be further alienated if they postpone adoption until the penalty phase, when they likely require more support in selecting, implementing and using a system.

EHR adoption will become particularly critical in the future, as many of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ new payment models require EHR use or Meaningful Use participation in order to receive payment.

National participation in EHR implementation is at 62.8%, according to a recent survey from SK&A. That is up nearly 2% over last year. Adoption rates are highest in hospital-owned practices with 11 to 25 physicians that see more than 100 patients per day, according to the report. Primary care was not listed in the report, but internal medicine was ranked as one of the top EHR users over the last year with nearly 77%-up 1% over last year-of internal medicine and pediatrics practices using EHRs, while general preventive medicine had a user rate hovering around 40%-up 5% over last year.