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Doctors' Use of Electronic Health Records More Than Doubles

Government programs to defray costs help physicians install these electronic systems, per report

WEDNESDAY, May 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Almost 80 percent of doctors in the United States have switched from paper to electronic health records, new government statistics show.

By 2012, almost 72 percent of physicians had made the change, compared to just under 35 percent in 2007, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since then, the number of doctors using electronic health records has increased even more, lead researcher Esther Hing, a statistician at the CDC's U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, told HealthDay. "In 2013, 78 percent of physicians were using electronic health record systems," she said. "We are reaching nearly all the doctors."

Of the doctors who turned to electronic health records by 2012, 39.6 percent used a basic system, up from 11.8 percent in 2007, the researchers found. And 23.5 percent had a fully functional system, up from 3.8 percent in 2007. Hing noted that the progress is largely the result of the federal government's financial incentives to help doctors change to electronic recordkeeping.

"These incentives have had a large part in the increased adoption of these systems," Hing said. However, many doctors (about 40 percent) aren't using the full capabilities of their system, Hing noted. Once the system is installed, there is a steep learning curve before doctors and other staff are able to use it efficiently, she said.

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