Health IT

Patients can only hope for crappy level of access to EHR data that docs have now

EMR uses from Annals of Internal Medicine 071713

iHealthBeat highlighted an interesting chart from a recent study of how doctors are using electronic medical records. According to this survey of 1820 primary care physicians and specialists in office-based practices, docs use EHRs to check test results more frequently than any other task. The national survey conducted in late 2011/early 2012 found that 43.5 percent of physicians reported having a basic EHR, and 9.8 percent met meaningful use criteria.

Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the report describes the results this way (emphasis mine):

Computerized systems for managing patient populations were not widespread; fewer than one-half of respondents reported the presence of computerized systems for any of the patient population management tasks included in the survey.

The conclusion of the “Meeting Meaningful Use Criteria and Managing Patient Populations: A National Survey of Practicing Physicians” was equally grim:

Few physicians could meet meaningful use criteria in early 2012, and using computerized systems for the panel management tasks was difficult. Results support the growing evidence that using the basic data input capabilities of an EHR does not translate into the greater opportunity that these technologies promise.

Although most docs are clearly only at the beginning of the meaningful use journey, most patients haven’t even left the gate. How long will it take for 43.5 percent of patients to have even the most basic access to this kind of health data in an electronic format? There’s a clue in the chart. To make progress with getting access for patients, we need to move “sharing health data with patients” from last place to first.

Meaningful Use Stage 2 will help move that number and there are pilot projects that show it can be done.

Even with those two encouraging signs, it will be five years or more before even 43.5 percent of patients have any meaningful access to their own EHR data.

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