What We're Reading: Just One-Third of Providers Use EHRs

What we’re reading, October 31, 2016: a CDC survey found that although almost 4 in 5 physicians have electronic health record (EHR) systems in place, only one-third use them; Community Health Options, an ACA Marketplace exchange in Maine, will no longer cover elective abortions; CMS improves its Dialysis Facility Compare website and adds patient ratings.

Data released by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reveal that while electronic health record (EHR) systems are fairly commonplace, providers may not be using them to their full potential. In 2015, 77.9% of office-based physicians had a certified EHR system, but only one-third of physicians had used it to electronically send, receive, integrate, or search for patient health information from other providers, and only 8.7% had used it for all 4 activities. The activity that varied the most in prevalence nationwide was searching for patient health information, which ranged from 15.1% of providers in the District of Columbia to 61.2% in Oregon.

Maine’s largest marketplace exchange, Community Health Options, will no longer cover elective abortion services. The co-op also dropped adult vision care, another service not deemed an essential health benefit under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in an effort to lower the $31 million in debt that it accrued in 2015. Abortion is the only service that the ACA explicitly allows states to ban marketplace coverage of, which 25 states currently do.

CMS announced that it will make changes to improve its Dialysis Facility Compare website, most notably by including patient ratings for each facility. The site has also updated its star rating methodology by establishing a baseline for each site’s performance and using more sound statistical measures. “These changes are in direct response to the important feedback CMS has received from dialysis patients and their caregivers about what is most important to them in selecting their dialysis facility,” said Kate Goodrich, MD, director for Clinical Standards and Quality in a blog post.