Study: EHR adoption will miss goal

Bush touts digital health info

The Bush administration’s goal of having electronic health records (EHRs) for most Americans by 2014 is likely to take nearly another decade to achieve, a study has concluded.

In an article titled “Predicting the Adoption of Electronic Health Records by Physicians: When Will Health Care Be Paperless?” in the January/February issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Eric Ford of the Center for Healthcare Leadership and Strategy at Texas Tech University and others wrote that “at the current adoption rate, the goal of universal adoption will take more than twice as long as desired.”

The article states that at the slowest likely rate of EHR adoption, 86.6 percent of physicians in small practices will be using EHRs in 2024 – a decade beyond the target date that President Bush set in 2004.

The study focused on small medical offices because they are “where the patient histories essential to a nationwide EHR system are generated,” the article states, and because those offices have been the most reluctant to begin using EHRs. That makes small medical offices the leading indicator for adoption, according to the article.

Although viable EHR technologies have been available for some time, adoption has been slow. The article suggests that some of the initiatives now under way in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and elsewhere in the Department of Health and Human Services may speed the rate of adoption. However, the article states that U.S. physicians can be stubborn when outsiders try to tell them how to operate their practices.

“There is growing recognition that the EHR diffusion process is multifaceted in nature and that no single tactic will successfully address all the barriers to adoption in the physicians’ small-practice setting,” according to the article.

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