Few U.S. Physicians, Hospitals Utilizing Electronic Records

By Murdock, Russell | The Nation's Health, December 2006 | Go to article overview

Few U.S. Physicians, Hospitals Utilizing Electronic Records


Murdock, Russell, The Nation's Health


Despite calls for greater use of electronic health records, only 25 percent of U.S. physicians are utilizing the method, according to an October report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report, which reviewed data from three dozen surveys conducted in the past decade, found that not enough physicians are opting to use electronic medical records, despite their benefits. In fact, fewer than 10 percent of the nation's physicians are using fully operational electronic records that collect patient information, display test results, allow providers to enter medical orders and prescriptions and aid in treatment.

Because of poor data, it is not known how many of the nation's 8,000 hospitals are using electronic medical records but the report estimated that 5 percent of hospitals used computerized physician order entry systems. Such systems, which are one type of electronic health record, help reduce errors and improve care.

Health leaders are calling for increased use of electronic records because they are more accurate, cut down on medical errors and can save money.

"We need a health care system that can deliver high-quality, efficient and effective health care, and electronic records are an important and necessary part of making that transformation," said APHA member John Lumpkin, MD, MPH, senior vice president and director of the health care group at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, at a Washington, D.C., news conference announcing the foundation's findings.

In 2004, President Bush called for all Americans to have electronic health care records by 2014. The need for such records became especially clear after Hurricane Katrina, which displaced millions of people, sometimes far from their medical providers.

Some privacy advocates oppose electronic health records due to concerns about privacy, but members of the committee that drafted the report disagree with the assertion that electronic health records are any less secure than traditional health records.

Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH, assistant professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, said at the news conference that the public overestimates the security of personal information in the current system. …

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