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US hospitals making only modest gains in adoption of electronic health records
Date:8/26/2010

and 2009. Based on the measures examined by the authors, only approximately 2% of U.S. hospitals described EHRs that would allow them to meet the criteria in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for "meaningful use," which doctors and hospitals must meet by 2012 in order to receive financial incentives through Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. These meaningful use guidelines include 14 core functions, such as prescribing electronically and keeping an active medication list for patients.

Given the state of the economy at the time the survey was conducted, Jha is not surprised that adoption rates for EHR systems, which can cost tens of millions of dollars to purchase and implement, remain low. He notes that the government's financial incentives may go primarily to larger, academic hospitals, further widening an already large digital divide.

"The problem is that the bonuses that hospitals get for meeting meaningful use are front-loaded, meaning hospitals have to implement and use EHRs by 2012 in order to get the bulk of the incentives," Jha said. "This is an aggressive timeline, and many hospitals may not make it. If they miss out, it may be years before many of these hospitals will be able to afford to purchase and install their own EHR systems."


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Contact: Todd Datz
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu
617-998-8819
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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