Healthcare Technology Featured Article

January 18, 2010

Healthcare Technology and News: Electronic Medical and Health Records Usage Increases in U.S.: Report

According to 2009 preliminary estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or “CDC,” of the U.S. Government, four out of every 10 office-based or clinic based physicians use electronic health records, or “EHR,” or electronic medical records, or “EMR.”

The estimates are based on the CDC's National Ambulatory Medical Survey, or “NAMCS,” an annual nationally representative survey of patient visits to office-based physicians that collects information on the use of electronic medical records or electronic health records. A supplementary mail survey was also conducted in 2008 and 2009.
This is apparently very good news to the thousands of EMR Solutions and Health SAAS providers, who have tried hard to penetrate into this market space, over the decade. There has been an apparent disconnect between the advances of e-Documentation and Business Management Solutions with record keeping by Healthcare professionals and Doctors.
What’s more, this disparity and void, has been shortened by doctors itself plunging into the Tech field and customizing such softwares for the benefit of their peers. A good example is that of Samuel T. Bowen, who initiated the OpenEMR, an Open Source EMR system based on PHP language to combat high prices set by existing EMRs.  
Unreasonably high cost EMRs, have also been a huge deterrent for General Practitioners and Rural physicians who want to upgrade into the electronic mode. For countries like India, China and Brazil, the governments, in the next five years will make it mandatory for health records to be maintained, too boost up their Medical tourism and also for taxation purpose., an Indian based web startup will be customizing Open EMR and launching it as a free web tool for its many Doctor Users by early May, this year.
Learning the softwares is also another issue, hence quick learning programs have to be introduced in Medical Colleges itself to see the growth of EMR usage around the world. Read here to know more of how even 2009, has been the banner year for eClinicalWorks, which is into the same space of providing ambulatory clinical systems.
43.9 percent of physicians reported using full or partial EMR/EHR systems – not including systems used solely for billing – in office-based practices. About 20.5 percent reported having systems that meet the criteria of a basic system, and 6.3 percent reported using a fully functional system.
A basic system is defined as having patient demographic information, patient problem lists, clinical notes, orders for prescriptions and viewing laboratory and imaging results. Systems defined as fully functional also include medical history and follow-up, orders for tests, prescription and test orders sent electronically, warnings of drug interactions or contraindications, highlighting of out-of-range test levels and reminders for guideline-based interventions.
The survey indicates that from 2007-2008, physicians use of any EMR system increased by 18.7 percent and the percentage of physicians reporting having systems that meet the criteria of a basic system increased by 41.5 percent. Researchers conclude that the 2009 preliminary estimates did not change significantly from 2008.
Researchers say data from the 2009 NAMCS will be combined with the mail survey to obtain a final 2009 estimate.

Hans Lewis is a contributing editor for HealthTechZone. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Kelly McGuire

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