Survey finds EHR adoption behind at hospitals treating the poor

November 12, 2009

A new study published in Health Affairs finds that hospitals that disproportionately care for low-income patients are falling behind in adopting electronic health records.

A new study published inHealth Affairs finds that hospitals that disproportionately care for low-income patients are falling behind in adopting electronic health records (EHRs).

The conclusion is based on responses from 2,368 acute-care, nonfederal U.S. hospitals with available Medicare disproportionate-share hospital indices. The researchers found that, for many of the functions examined, hospitals that served a higher proportion of poor patients had modestly lower levels of adoption of health information technology (IT). Hospitals serving a larger proportion of poor patients cited cost as a major barrier to EHR adoption. The survey results also suggest that EHR systems could help improve the quality of care delivered.

This year’s federal stimulus bill authorized nearly $30 billion to establish a national health IT infrastructure. The authors conclude, “While the Obama administration and Congress seek to craft effective policies to stimulate the adoption and use of health IT, it will be critical to ensure that institutions that care for the most vulnerable Americans are not left behind.”