Blumenthal Announces 'Encouraging' Survey Data Showing Increased EHR Adoption Rates

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An “encouraging” 80 percent of the nation's hospitals and 40 percent of physician practices intend to implement health information technology systems to achieve “meaningful use” of electronic health records, National Coordinator for HIT David Blumenthal said Jan. 13.

The data come from surveys commissioned by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and carried out in the course of regular annual surveys by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), an agency of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The AHA survey found that 81 percent of hospitals plan to achieve meaningful use of EHRs and take advantage of government incentive payments. Furthermore, 65 percent responded that they will enroll during Stage 1 of the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs in 2011 and 2012, Blumenthal said.

The NCHS survey found that 41 percent of office-based physicians currently are planning to achieve meaningful use of certified EHR technology and take advantage of the incentive payments. Additionally, about one-third of all office-based physicians (32.4 percent) responded that they will enroll during Stage 1 of the programs. According to ONC, only 14 percent of respondents said they were not planning to apply for meaningful use incentives.

Blumenthal made the announcement during an event at the George Washington University Hospital in Washington, one of nearly 100 hospitals in 47 states that have announced their commitment to health information technology, Blumenthal said.

“I believe we are seeing the tide turn toward widespread and accelerating adoption and use of health IT,” Blumenthal said.

Incentive payments for the adoption and meaningful use of certified EHR technology were authorized in the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Incentive payments will be made through the Medicare and Medicaid programs. High rates of EHR adoption could result in as much as $27 billion over 10 years in meaningful use incentive payments (see previous article).

D.C. Area Adopting EHRs.

In addition to George Washington University Hospital's announcement that it will be enrolling in the meaningful use program, Maryland-based MedStar Health and Virginia-based Inova Health System physicians also plan to implement EHR systems, officials said.

MedStar Health Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Catherine Szenczy said that of the nine hospitals in MedStar's system, St. Mary's Hospital in Southern Maryland will be the first to register its intention to achieve meaningful use.

MedStar--a nonprofit, community-based health care organization serving the Baltimore and Washington regions--also plans to participate in the Washington and Maryland health information exchanges, Szenczy said.

“EHRs will result in better care for patients in our community and across the country,” she said.

Geoff Brown, senior vice president and chief information officer of Inova Health System, Virginia's largest nonprofit health care community, said an estimated 45 percent of office-based physicians in Virginia plan to apply for EHR incentive payments.

Although the incentive payments may not pay back all of a physician's or hospital's EHR implementation costs, Brown said, the payments could help recover 30 to 50 percent of those costs in most organizations.

The NCHS survey is available at

The AHA survey is available for purchase at

Information about the incentive payment programs is available on the CMS website at

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