Majority of Physicians Used Certified EHRs in 2014

Talisha Searcy | September 17, 2015

Since the enactment of the HITECH Act as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the number of health care providers using an electronic health record (EHR) has continued to rise, helping to build the foundation for an interoperable learning health system.

New analyses from ONC using data from the National Electronic Health Record Survey (NEHRS) show that in 2014 more than 8 in 10 ambulatory care physicians were using an EHR. This is an increase of more than four percentage points from the previous year. And, for the first time, these data allow for estimates of physician adoption of certified EHRs: almost three-quarters of physicians were using a certified EHR in 2014.

Consistent with adoption of any EHR, certified EHR adoption is more common among primary care physicians, physicians in larger practices, and in HMO- and medical or academic health center-owned practices. The data indicated that almost two-thirds of physicians applied, or planned to apply, to the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. While we are encouraged with increased rates of EHR adoption by solo practice physicians, there is still work to be done to encourage EHR adoption. Less than two-thirds of solo practice physicians had adopted any EHR, and slightly more than half had adopted a certified EHR. Medical and surgical specialists had lower rates of adoption than primary care physicians.

Certified health IT applies standards for data capture and exchange of patient health information, which makes the availability of a metric for certified EHR adoption among physicians particularly timely. By tracking certified health IT adoption, we will be able to monitor the adoption of technology designed to promote interoperability and improve the flow of patient health information between care providers. As the nation moves towards achieving an interoperable health system that allows health information to travel with the patient, tracking this measure will help us understand where and why gaps exist in health information exchange capabilities and use this knowledge to better target those areas of need.