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Faster Adoption of Electronic Health Records Needed

Penalties under 2009 law start in 2015

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) by health providers for Medicare is increasing, but not quickly enough to avoid penalties in 2015, according to a letter published in the Feb. 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Adam Wright, Ph.D., from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues analyzed attestations for the adoption of EHRs for Medicare from April 2011 and May 2012 under the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, which imposes payments and penalties based on "meaningful use" of certified EHRs starting in 2015. The authors used data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Government Accountability Office, and the American Medical Association.

The researchers found that, as of May 2012, 12.2 percent of the estimated 509,328 eligible physicians in the United States (9.8 percent of specialists and 17.8 percent of primary care providers) had attested to meaningful use under the Medicare program. The attestation rate ranged from 1.9 percent in Alaska to 24.2 percent in North Dakota. Primary care providers accounted for 44 percent of attestations. Although EHRs from 310 vendors were used, fifteen vendors accounted for 80.1 percent of attestations.

"Although these data suggest rapid growth in the number of providers achieving meaningful use, this pace must accelerate for most eligible professionals to avoid penalties in 2015," Wright and colleagues conclude.

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