Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Physician EMR Use Passes 50% as Incentives Outweigh Resistance

By Bob Cook, amednews staff

25% of office-based physicians have a basic EMR system and 10% have a fully functional system.

The transition has happened for a number of reasons, technology analysts say. One is simple demographics: As more older physicians retire and more freshly minted doctors join the work force, the resistance to EMRs lessens. (A previous 2010 CDC report said the younger the doctor, the more likely he or she was to embrace EMRs.) But the resistance has lessened even among older physicians, who have grown more comfortable with EMRs as they have become more common in offices and hospitals. "The fear factor is dissipating," said Mary Shacklett, CEO of Transworld Data, a technology research and consulting firm in Olympia, Wash.

Another major factor: financial assistance and incentives to get physicians to adopt.

In 2006, the Dept. of Health and Human Services granted Stark law exceptions and anti-kickback safe harbors to hospitals through Dec. 31, 2013, so they could help affiliated practices finance EMRs and other technology. A July 2010 study from consulting firm CSC said one-third of hospitals have offered financial assistance to physicians for EMRs, and more than 60% of hospitals offer physicians access to the hospital's EMR and a hosted EMR for physicians delivering ambulatory care.

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