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 »
By the narrowest of margins, the Senate voted 51-50 this afternoon to begin debate on the House's legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins defected from the GOP, but Vice President Pence broke a tie. Sen. John McCain returned from brain surgery to cast his vote.
"Republicans who interviewed Jared Kushner for more than three hours in the House’s Russia probe on Tuesday said the president’s son-in-law and adviser came across as candid and cooperative. 'His answers were forthcoming and complete. He satisfied all my questions,' said Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who’s leading the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign."
"A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday blocked a gun regulation in Washington, D.C., that limited the right to carry a handgun in public to those with a special need for self-defense, handing a victory to gun rights advocates. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit's 2-1 ruling struck down the local government's third major attempt in 40 years to limit handgun rights, citing what it said was scant but clear guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court on the right to bear arms."