EHR Adoption by Family Physicians Likely To surpass 80% in 2013

EHR Adoption

EHR Adoption Accelerating Among Family Physicians

The Annals of Family Medicine is a non-profit, peer-reviewed research journal  with a mission to advance the improvement of healthcare delivery among primary care physicians. Its publication is a collaborative effort among seven leading medical association that includes the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) and others. The journal recently released the results of their most recent study, The Rise of EHR Adoption Among Family Physicians published in their January edition.

The study examines EHR adoption among family physicians and looks at the variations of adoption across states. The study concludes EHR adoption by family physicians could surpass 80% sometime this year.

The study researchers used national data from surveys completed by candidates applying for the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) Maintenance of Certification examination and the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS). They then used the data to estimate EHR adoption among family physicians compared to national trends. The researchers also looked at comparisons to other outpatient physicians and by state.

Key findings from the study:

  • EHR adoption rates based on both ABFM and NAMCS data rose steadily and doubled from 2005 to 2011.
  • Adoption rates for family physicians were significantly higher than for other office-based physicians.
  • Significant variations in EHR adoption were observed across states with ABFM rates ranging from a low in North Dakota of 47% to a high of 95% in Utah. NAMCS-FP rates ranged from a low of 44% in North Carolina to a high of 88% in Hawaii.
  •  States with higher EHR adoption among family physicians generally had higher EHR adoption for other state-level office-based physicians.

So how can the variation among states be explained? The study researchers acknowledge that the wide variance among states for EHR adoption is unknown though offer some suggestions:

  • Possibility that initiatives to help adoption may not exist in low-adoption states.
  • The researchers identified four consistent theme for embracing health IT adoption among state, one being the presence of “innovative HIT funding mechanisms” and some states commitment to financial support of HIT adoption.
  • Variances in the penetration of health maintenance organizations or other integrated health systems among states.
  • Larger practices and organizations found in some states may find the road to adoption easier than smaller.

The researchers point out that identifying variances among states could help in the development of targeted interventions including adjusting federal funding for some Regional Extension Centers (RECs).

Read the full study here.