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Healthcare // Electronic Health Records

Doctors Use Of EHRs Growing

The government's healthcare IT stimulus package seems to be having a positive impact on electronic health record adoption.

The number of doctors replacing paper with electronic health record systems has grown since the government's healthcare IT stimulus package was signed into law, a study released Wednesday showed.

More than 48% of the people surveyed by GfK Roper for IT vendor Practice Fusion said their doctor or specialist stored medical records electronically in the examination room, as opposed to writing information on paper charts. Of those patients, more than 45% said their doctor made the switch in the last two years, and more than 14% said the switch occurred in the last six months.

Ryan Howard, chief executive of Practice Fusion, said the findings indicate that the $20 billion in stimulus money contained in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law about a year ago, is having an impact.

"During a deep recession, the health IT sector is booming and how we think about health data is being fundamentally redefined," Howard said in a statement.

The survey also found that patients whose doctors did not use an EHR system to enter data during their last visit were split on the use of the technology. More than 38% of the respondents wanted their doctors to go digital, while almost 33% did not. Nearly 29% were not sure.

Higher-income patients were more likely to see their doctors using an EHR system. Nearly 53% of the respondents with incomes of more than $50,000 a year had doctors using digital records, compared to about 45% of people with incomes under $20,000 a year.

The survey was based on telephone interviews with 1,000 U.S. adults from Feb. 5-7. Practice Fusion, which offers physicians a Web-based EHR system, has posted a whitepaper on the study online.

The government's stimulus package rewards doctors and hospitals for using e-medical record systems in "meaningul" ways starting in 2011. As a result, health IT vendors are jockeying to get a piece of the action.

Vendors offering standalone software that helps doctors manage the administrative and business side of their practices are pairing up with e-health record vendors that don't have practice-management modules -- and vice versa.

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