July 5, 2012 — Although use of electronic health records (EHRs) can improve care coordination and quality, patient safety, outcomes reporting, and provider efficiency, some physicians have been slow to adopt the technology. To encourage the “meaningful use” of EHRs, the federal government created an incentive program for health providers, administered through Medicaid. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act authorized the federal funding of this program.
This report summarizes a survey of California physicians about their current use of EHRs and their eligibility for the Medi-Cal EHR incentive program.
Some key findings:
• Although 71 percent of physicians surveyed have an EHR system, only 30% have EHRs configured to meet all 12 of the meaningful use objectives measured in the study.
• Rates of EHR availability are lowest among physician solo practitioners, small partnerships, and community/public clinics. Office-based physicians are less likely to have EHRs than those in hospitals, and rural physicians are less likely to have them than urban physicians.
• Most physicians who, based on their survey responses, are eligible for incentive payments (70 percent) do not currently have EHRs that can meet all 12 of the meaningful use objectives measured.
• Many physicians are not familiar with the eligibility rules for the Medi-Cal EHR incentive payment program. A substantial percentage of survey respondents who are eligible for the payment program believe that they are not eligible, do not plan to apply, or need further information before deciding to apply. At the same time, a number of respondents who plan to apply do not appear to be eligible.
• An estimated 21,598 physicians will be eligible for the Medi-Cal EHR incentive payment program based on their payer mix, practice setting, and practice type. This number will grow with the increase in Medi-Cal enrollment in 2014 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Source: California Healthcare Foundation