Health IT Adoption Doubles From 2012

Posted: 5/28/2013

By: Erin McCann

More than half of all eligible providers nationwide have received federal incentive payments for demonstrating meaningful use of electronic health records, rates that have more than doubled since last year alone, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Wednesday.

Sebelius says HHS has met and exceeded its goal for 50 percent of doctor offices and 80 percent of eligible hospitals to have adopted EHRs by 2013's end.

According to a 2012 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, the percent of physicians using an advanced EHR system was pegged at 17 percent in 2008. Today, more than 50 percent of eligible professionals, mostly physicians, have demonstrated meaningful use and received incentive payments. For hospitals, just 9 percent had adopted EHRs in 2008, compared with 80 percent today.

Further, just in January 2012, these numbers were pegged at 1,600 eligible hospitals and 38,000 eligible providers who had attested.

"We have reached a tipping point in adoption of electronic health records," said Sebelius, in a statement. "More than half of eligible professionals and 80 percent of eligible hospitals have adopted these systems, which are critical to modernizing our healthcare system. Health IT helps providers better coordinate care, which can improve patients' health and save money at the same time."  

Sebelius said the Obama administration has encouraged the adoption of health IT starting with the passage of the Recovery Act in 2009, which has become an integral element of healthcare quality and efficiency improvements. Doctors, hospitals and other eligible providers who adopt and meaningfully use certified electronic health records receive incentive payments through the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. Part of the Recovery Act, these programs began in 2011 and are administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Agency officials also say adoption of EHRs is critical to the broader healthcare improvement efforts that have started as a result of the Affordable Care Act. These efforts - improving care coordination, reducing duplicative tests and procedures and rewarding hospitals for keeping patients healthier - are all further supported by widespread use of EHRs. Health IT systems give providers the ability to better coordinate care and reduce errors and readmissions that can cost more money. In turn, efforts to improve care coordination and efficiency create further incentive for providers to adopt health IT.  

As of the end of April 2013:

  • More than 291,000 eligible professionals and more than 3,800 eligible hospitals have received incentive payments from the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.
  • Approximately 80 percent of all eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals in the U.S. have received an incentive payment for adopting, implementing, upgrading or meaningfully using an EHR.
  • More than half of physicians and other eligible professionals in the U.S. have received an incentive payment for adopting, implementing, upgrading or meaningfully using an EHR.

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