Scores of filing cabinets containing thousands of patient medical records are disappearing into the cloud.
Use of electronic health records systems in doctors’ offices has doubled in recent years, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2012, 72 percent of office-based physicians reported using electronic health records, up from 35 percent in 2007, the CDC says.
The report finds that adoption of electronic health records was higher among younger physicians compared with older physicians, among primary-care physicians rather than specialty doctors, and among larger practices than smaller.
This digital revolution among doctors is driven in part by the stimulus bill, which created a system for incentive payments to Medicare and Medicaid physicians who could use electronic health records to improve patient care.
While there’s plenty of anecdotes of patients irritated by their doctors looking at a screen during their appointment, early evidence shows using electronic health records can improve health outcomes. Online systems can remind physicians when patients are due for vaccinations and prescription refills, as well as offer a complete snapshot of the patient’s health history so that doctors can make more informed decisions about treatment.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is helping guide implementation of the Hitech Act reforms. Led by Karen DeSalvo, the office is currently navigating the process of getting different electronic health systems to talk to each other — a process known as interoperability.
“We have made impressive progress on our infrastructure, but we have not reached our shared vision of having this interoperable system where data can be exchanged and meaningfully used to improve care,” DeSalvo said at a recent health information-technology conference.
With electronic health records systems being put to use in thousands of doctors’ offices nationwide, the next step is to be able to transfer patient data across systems, allowing patients with complex conditions to share their medical information with specialty doctors and hospitals.
What We're Following See More »
"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.