Financial Incentives Top Motivation for EHR Adoption

Financial incentives and the need to share patient information are the top motivations for physicians adopting electronic health records, according to a data brief from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Financial incentives and the need to share patient information are the top motivations for physicians adopting electronic health records (EHRs), according to a data brief from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The report used data from the 2013 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.

While 71% of physicians have adopted EHRs and 10% are planning to adopt an EHR, there is still 11% who are uncertain and 8% who simply are not adopting. However, among physicians not planning to adopt an EHR, nearly half cited retirement as the reason why.

Of the physicians who adopted health information technology (IT) tools between 2010 and 2013, financial incentives or penalties had a major influence on their decision, according to 62% of physicians. More than half (51%) of physicians who had not adopted EHRs as of 2013 also cited financial incentives or penalties as the biggest potential driver for EHR adoption.

“We have seen a significant increase in the adoption and use of health IT systems among providers and the new data shows the importance of incentives in building an interoperable health IT system,” Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, MPH, national coordinator for health IT and acting assistant secretary of health, said in a statement. “National delivery system reform initiatives linked to certified technology, such as the separately billable chronic care management services, will help make the electronic use and sharing of health information a reality.”

Before incentive payments were available, the ability to easily share electronic information with other caregivers was the largest motivation for physicians adopting health IT tools. However, post HITECH, it is now the fourth biggest factor.

Among those physicians who indicated that they would not adopt an EHR, a lack of resources, both financial, time, and staff, was the most common reason (67%). The lack of financial resources was the top reason, according to 57% of respondents. However, privacy and security concerns was also an issue for 43%.

Despite high adoption rates among primary care physicians, the same was not observed across other specialties, according to the data brief.

“To ensure improved patient care, reduced health care costs, and improved continuity of care across the health care continuum, physicians across the spectrum must adopt EHRs and use them to safely and securely share patient health information electronically,” the ONC authors wrote.