As cited at the government’s health and human services website, the U.S has reached a tipping point in adoption of EHR. HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius mentioned this when calling attention to the fact that electronic health records are critical to modernizing the American healthcare system. Already 50% of physicians have adopted EHR, demonstrated meaningful use and received the promised incentive payments. Government statistics show that in 2008 only 17% of physicians used electronic records. As for hospitals, about 9% of hospitals used electronic records in 2008, but now 80% utilize EHR.
The Obama administration encouraged the adoption of health IT when passing the Recovery Act in 2009, emphasizing it as vital for improvement in the quality and efficiency of healthcare. Incentive payments were ensured via Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs for physicians and providers that adopt and meaningfully use certified EHR. These programs which began in 2011 are administered by the CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology.
What are the merits of electronic health records?
- Care coordination can be improved. Duplicate tests and procedures can be avoided. Since each of the patient’s doctors can see the tests that have been performed and the medications administered, possibility of drug interactions can also be avoided.
- Medical errors can be considerably cut down.
- A patient’s medical history can be clearly understood.
- Organizations can always be checked for quality as mandated by the law.
- EHR enables doctors to avoid Medicare imposed penalties for people readmitted to hospitals for certain specific conditions.
- These help providers to share information easily and participate in team-based healthcare.
The downside of EHR still remains that the various electronic systems do not always communicate efficiently with each other. The needs of the day for instance, include a common standard for lab results and standardized language.
Whether electronic or paper records, when it comes to tasks such as medical record review, a reliable service provider can be of immense assistance to physicians, attorneys and payers.