Federally Funded Centers’ EHR Adoption Outpaces Other Providers

May 8, 2014 in News

Federally funded health centers are adopting electronic health record systems more quickly than ambulatory care providers, as well as adopting systems with more advanced EHR functionalities, according to a study recently published in the Journal for Healthcare Quality, EHR Intelligence reports. The centers are outpacing ambulatory providers despite differences in both available resources and requirements.

Details of Study

The study used information from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Uniform Data System to compile a comprehensive analysis of federally funded health centers’ progress in EHR incentive programs.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Researchers queried terms based on the Medicaid program’s “adopt, implement or upgrade requirement” to identify which 28 functionalities were installed and in use in the centers’ EHR systems. Researchers then consulted with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to determine which functionalities were comparable to measures under meaningful use Stage 1.

Study Findings

The study found that the federally funded centers’ EHRs used 19 functionalities related to meaningful use Stage 1. Specifically:

  • 99.4% of the centers’ EHR systems employed patient history and demographics;
  • 99.1% used patient problem lists;
  • 99.1% listed patients’ allergies;
  • 98.9% listed what medications patients are taking;
  • 98.8% protected electronic health data;
  • 97.7% could record and chart changes in patients’ vital signs;
  • 96.1% produced warnings of drug allergies, interactions or contraindications;
  • 95.5% could record a patient’s smoking status;
  • 95.4% allowed physicians to electronically enter prescribed medications;
  • 89.9% allowed physicians to electronically send prescriptions;
  • 88.9% allowed physicians to order lab tests electronically;
  • 86.1% were capable of providing clinical summaries for each office visit for patients;
  • 82.5% issued reminders for guideline-based interventions or screenings;
  • 75.8% could compile information for UDS reporting;
  • 67.8% were capable of providing patients with copies of the EHRs upon request;
  • 56.1% allowed physicians to electronically order radiology tests;
  • 51% could electronically exchange important clinical data among different providers and patient-authorized entities;
  • 34.4% could electronically report immunizations to appropriate registries; and
  • 19% could electronically send notifiable diseases.

The study also found that the number of federally funded health centers that reported having an EHR system increased by 15% from 2010 to 2011.

In addition, the authors noted that centers receiving Community Health Center funding had higher EHR adoption rates than those that did not receive such funding.

However, the study did not determine health centers’ success in attesting for meaningful use (Murphy, EHR Intelligence, 5/7).

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