CIOs across America are concerned that their hospitals might not make the 2015 meaningful use deadline

For all the excitement about hospital and physician adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems, many CIOs of the nation’s leading health systems and hospitals are pessimistic about their organization’s ability to meet “meaningful use” (MU) requirements by the year 2015.

This is probably not news to most pathologists and clinical laboratory managers working in hospital laboratories. Generally, members of their medical laboratory team are usually part of every hospital’s EHR implementation task force, since clinical laboratory test data makes up a significant portion of the typical patient health record.

How far are many hospitals from meeting the 2012 deadline for meaningful use? According to Don May, Vice President of Policy at the American Hospital Association (AHA), hospital leaders report a pessimistic outlook on their organization’s state of preparedness.

(David Blumenthal, M.D., the former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HIMSS 2011. Photo courtesy of HIMSS.)

(David Blumenthal, M.D., the former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HIMSS 2011. Photo courtesy of HIMSS.)

“To be honest, we don’t know,” May said in a Modern Healthcare article. “One told us they are shooting for 2012, another said they’re shooting for 2014; another said ‘our goal is 2012,’ but the way they said it, they thought they might be there a little later.”

Chip Kahn, President and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) noted “great variations across hospitals” in their EHR preparedness.

“This is just extremely complex and expensive at a time in which a lot of hospitals are being squeezed,” he said in the same Modern Healthcare article. “It’s great to have the money, but the money is not going to cover the costs.”

“We know that adoption of EHRs and conversion to EHR-based care is expensive and challenging, especially for smaller providers,” said David Blumenthal, M.D., the former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, in a press release. “With HITECH, we are able to provide unprecedented funding and technical support programs to help providers make the transition and to help our nation achieve the improvements in health care quality, safety and cost effectiveness EHRs will bring about.”

The Real State of EHR Adoption at Hospitals and Hospital-Based Clinical Labs

So how successful are hospitals with their EHR adoption as of this date? It depends on who you ask. Two separate surveys provide mixed results that can be interpreted in different ways. However, each of the surveys provides valuable information for pathologists and clinical laboratory managers about the rate at which physicians and hospitals are implementing EHR systems.

According to The National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), which was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) in 2010:

  • “The percentage of physicians using all or partial EMR/EHR systems by state ranged from 38.1% to 80.2%.
  • “The percentage of physicians having systems that met the criteria of a basic system by state ranged from 12.5% to 51.5%.
  • “Excluding 27 states with unreliable estimates, the percentage of physicians having systems that met the criteria of a fully functional system across the United States ranged from 9.7% to 27.2%.”

However, the results of a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) Health Research Institute (HRI) led to some different conclusions. “Eight in 10 hospital chief information officers (CIOs) said they are concerned or very concerned they will not be able to demonstrate ‘meaningful use’ of electronic health records within the federally established deadline of 2015,” wrote the PwC study authors.

So who is one to believe? Regular readers of Dark Daily will recall our previous coverage on the state of EHR adoption in “Hospital and Physician Adoption of EHRs Will Accelerate Because of Federal Incentives.” In reporting on a study of EHR implementation, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that as many as 50.7% physicians currently use some form of EHR. However, only 10.1% of physicians use an EHR that is fully functional and meetings meaningful use criteria.

This is probably not news to most of the nation’s anatomic pathology groups and clinical laboratories. That’s because they are busy fielding requests for digital interfaces to hospital and physician-office EHRs as federal incentives continue to drive EHR adoption in the United States.
—Michael McBride

Related Information:

Age of Meaningful Use (Modern Healthcare)

HITECH in High Gear (written by Dr. David Blumenthal for The Health Care Blog)

At The Starting Line (Modern Healthcare)

Surveys Show Significant Proportions of Hospitals and Doctors Already Plan to Adopt Electronic Health Records and Qualify for Federal Incentive Payments

Meaningless Adoption of Electronic Health Records Could Put Meaningful Use Goals at Risk, Says PricewaterhouseCoopers in New Report

THE DARK REPORT: How Meaningful Use and EMR Adoption Will Reshape Your Lab’s Competitive Future—and Its Profitability