Family physicians lead the way on EHR adoption

Family physicians surpass specialists and other office-based physician on EHR adoption rates, according to a new report.

Family physicians are leading the way when it comes to the adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems, according to a new analysis.

Data gleaned from two national sources-the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) and the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS)-shows that office-based family practitioners are surpassing their colleagues in EHR adoption rates.

Federal initiatives to increase EHR adoption rates have been amped up over the past few years, particularly since the passage of the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Since then, several efforts to increase EHR adoption have emerged, including attaching certain payment incentives to EHR implementation.

Family physicians-the largest group among primary care physicians (PCPs)-are a good beacon when it comes to EHR adoption rates because they are more proportionally distributed among the population than specialists, according to the study.

Overall, EHR adoption rates among family physicians doubled from 2005 to 2011, reaching a total of 67.7% in 2011. The overall adoption rate among family physicians was significantly higher than other office-based PCPs and specialists, according to the study. At the current rate of adoption, the analysis suggests family physicians could hit an overall adoption rate of 80% by 2013.

Regionally, large variations in adoption rates exist, even among family physicians, although the research did not determine the reason(s) for the difference. Rates ranged from 47% in North Dakota on the low end to roughly 95% in Utah, according to data from the ABFM. Other states with high adoption rates include Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. Florida, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio were ranked on the low end of the adoption spectrum.

Surveyed authors surmised that the amount of funding a state has to support new healthcare information technology (HIT) initiatives may have some effect on EHR adoption rates of doctors in that state. The study noted that physicians who embraced HIT cited innovative funding mechanisms such as financial support for things such as EHR adoption as a catalyst.


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