HHS Says EMR Adoption Reaching “Tipping Point”

More than 80 percent of hospitals accepting Medicaid or Medicare  — and half of doctors’ offices — should have EMRs in place by the end of the year, HHS announced.

According to HHS, 9 percent of hospitals had EMRs in 2008, but now 80 percent have demonstrated Meaningful  Use. Meanwhile, 17 percent of physicians used EMRs in 2008, but now 50 percent have demonstrated Meaningful Use.  To date, more than 291,000 providers and 3,800 hospitals  have received incentive payments. These are interesting numbers when compared with the state EHR adoption reports.

“We have reached a tipping point in adoption of electronic health records,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, according to a report in USA Today.

According to ONC head Farzad Mostashari, who spoke with the newspaper, EMRs have already begun to affect the safety and quality of care where they are deployed.  In the past, when patients went to the emergency department, often no one knew his or her medical history, which was often scattered across different doctors’ offices.

“There were hundreds of thousands of medical errors,” Mostashari told USA Today. “Electronic records cut errors by half.”

This year may offer cause to celebrate, but next year looks more challenging. Though the state of interoperability is still relatively primitive, providers are expected to have their EMRs connected to other systems and other providers by then. While some doctors and hospitals are already part of working HIEs, getting anywhere near a majority connected, much less all, is going to be a very, very challenging exercise.

Let’s see what the headlines say in May 2014!

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.