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July 30, 2012

New Survey Finds Not All Doctors Using EHRs Effectively

Sometimes you don’t know what to believe: one survey says that some but not all doctors are using electronic health records, while another reports that doctors throughout the United States are embracing EHRs in a big way.

However, if you dig a little deeper, you find that the second survey -- conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics in 2011 of 3,200 doctors – found that only a little more than half the doctors in the U.S. (55 percent) are currently using EHRs.

That’s up a little more than five percent from 2010, when a similar NCHS survey was conducted, according to Pamela Lewis Dolan. Of those users surveyed in 2011, 85 percent were either very or somewhat satisfied with their systems, she writes. 

The 2011 survey also revealed that less than one-third of solo practitioners had adopted digital records, but practices with two to 10 physicians were twice as likely to adopt and larger practices were three times more likely, according to a story at

About 75 percent of the physicians responding said they had remotely obtained access to a patient chart within the past 30 days, and another three-quarters said the EHR improved overall patient care, the story notes.

Even more important, half of the respondents “were alerted to critical lab results within the past 30 days, and 40 percent were alerted to potential medication errors in the same time span,” the website story adds. Nearly half of respondents without an EHR plan to adopt one within a year.

Dolan explains in her story that the survey “is designed to discover the impact of a federal program giving physicians bonuses for meaningful use of EHRs, a program that went into effect in 2011.” 

OK, so you have an EHR but how good is it? Ken Terry writes about the results of another CDC survey, released earlier this year, that found that while 57 percent of physicians had EHRs in 2011, only 34 percent of them met the CDC's definition of a "basic" EHR. 

So it’s onward and upward for most physicians’ offices. Meanwhile, U.S. News & World Report just released a list of the top 156 hospitals that are using EHRs the most effectively, having reached Stage 6 or 7 of Meaningful Use (for full use in a hospital).

Edited by Rachel Ramsey