EHR Use Sharply Increased in Emergency Departments

With the availability of government incentives, electronic health record use among hospital emergency departments and outpatient departments increased sharply from 2006 to 2011, according to a new analysis from the National Center on Health Statistics.

With government incentives available, electronic health record (EHR) use among hospital emergency departments (EDs) and outpatient departments (OPDs) increased sharply from 2006 to 2011, according to a new analysis from the CDC’s National Center on Health Statistics.

Less than half of EDs reported using an EHR system in 2006, but usage had increased to 84% in 2011. Use of an EHR system by OPDs increased even more from just 29% in 2006 to 73% in 2011. The year 2011 represented the first year of payments for hospitals meeting Stage 1 of the EHR Incentive Programs through CMS.

From 2007 to 2011, EDs with EHR systems able to support Stage 1 objectives in 4 areas increased: providing warnings of drug interactions or contraindications (28% to 43%), providing reminders for guideline-based interventions (28% to 40%), ordering prescriptions (39% to 63%), and recording patient problem list (45% to 65%).

During the same time period, OPDs also reported an increase in EHR systems supporting the same 4 Stage 1 objectives.

However, in 2011, just 14% of EDs and 16% if OPDs had EHR technology that could support 9 or 14 Stage 1 meaningful use objectives. The National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS), which the report used to describe adopt of EHRs by EDs and OPDs, only collected information on 9 of the 14 objectives. However, hospitals have to meet 14 core set objectives and 5 of 10 menu set objectives in order to receive meaningful use incentive payments.

The authors admit that this study overestimates hospital readiness for Stage 1 meaningful use because it does not measure all objectives, and it only analyzed 2 of the hospitals departments.

The NHAMCS did not measure the following meaningful use Stage 1 objectives: vital signs, smoking status, calculate and transmit CMS quality measure, and electronic copy of health information.