Study Finds Disparities Between Early, Late EHR Adopters

June 10, 2015 in News

There are “systematic differences” between early adopters of electronic health records and those who did not use EHRs before implementation of the meaningful use program, according to a study published in Health Affairs, EHR Intelligence reports.

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

Details of Study

For the study, researchers analyzed meaningful use participation among more than 26,000 physicians in New York between 2011 and 2012.

The researchers examined payment data for those years from CMS and the New York Department of Health (Gruessner, EHR Intelligence, 6/9).

Findings

In 2011, about 80% of New York physicians did not participate in the meaningful use program. However, the rate increased significantly in 2012, Politico‘s “Morning eHealth” reports (Pittman/Tahir, “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 6/9).

According to the study, participation in the Medicaid incentive program increased by 2.4 percentage points between 2011 and 2012, while participation in the Medicare incentive program rose by 15.8 percentage points (EHR Intelligence, 6/9).

Specifically, the study found that of the 26,368 physicians studied:

  • 8.5% participated in the Medicaid program in 2012, up from 6.1% in 2011; and
  • 23.9% participated in the Medicare program in 2012, up from 8.1% in 2011 (Jung et al., Health Affairs, June 2015).

According to the study, early adopters of EHRs were more likely to continue participating in the meaningful use program and “less likely to be nonparticipants or late adopters or to skip a program year,” compared with physicians who did not use EHRs until after the incentive program started (“Morning eHealth,” Politico, 6/9).

The study also found that early adoption of EHRs was associated with:

  • Access to resources and organizational support for EHR implementation;
  • Increased financial capacity; and
  • Prior experience with health IT.

The researchers said the findings suggest that while the meaningful use program helped advance EHR adoption, using the systems consistently poses its own barriers. As a result, the program has led to a gap in quality among providers.

Joshua Vest — co-author of the study and an assistant professor of health care policy and research at Weill Cornell Medical College — ┬ásaid, “Without additional support to move forward, there is the potential to stall out among those [providers] who don’t have the resources or capability to adopt EHRs” (EHR Intelligence, 6/9).

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