October 2008




EHR use limited but may increase in the future



There is a debate going on between doctors and medical centers across the United States about the use of electronic health records (EHR), according to the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch.

The Institute of Medicine, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, believes EHR to be the key to improving health care, as medication and treatment errors and other adverse events would likely decrease significantly if EHR were in widespread use, the article said. A recent study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology assessed the use of EHR by U.S. ophthalmologists. The responses of 592 Academy member ophthalmologists who voluntarily completed a standardized survey online or in a telephone interview in March 2006 were collected and analyzed. EHR use (implemented, in process, planned, not planned) among ophthalmologists was tracked. The perceived importance of a variety of EHR features, patient and practice demographics, and system details in practices using HER was also evaluated, the report said.

Only 12% of practices surveyed had EHR systems in place, 7% were in the implementation process, and 10% percent had plans to do so within 12 months. Among practices with EHR: 69% were satisfied or extremely satisfied; 64% reported increased or stable productivity; 51% reported decreased or stable overall costs; and 76% would recommend the use of EHR to fellow ophthalmologists. The EHR features that were valued the most were similar among users and included improved patient care and billing/charge collection. The adoption rate of EHR among ophthalmologists is similar to that of other U.S. medical specialties, which is 13 to 15%; in contrast, EHR implementation is nearly universal in Europe and the United Kingdom, the researchers noted. Despite the positive findings on the use of EHR, limited use was mainly attributed to the high initial investments of physician time and money to select and implement an EHR system. Physicians recognized that to be highly beneficial, EHR must be in nearly universal use. According to the report, new government initiatives could hasten this: the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee recently approved health information technology legislation that would provide incentives for physician adoption of EHR. In addition, the National Health Information Infrastructure initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services is building a distributed network of government EHR to support retrospective research, prospective clinical trials, and early detection of epidemic or bioterrorism disease outbreaks, the report said.

Reported by: EyeWorld News Services

EHR use limited but may increase in the future EHR use limited but may increase in the future
Ophthalmology News - EyeWorld Magazine
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