Nonteaching, Rural Hospitals Lag Behind Large Hospitals in EHR Adoption

Over the past four years, a gap has developed for adoption rates of electronic health record systems based on hospital size, teaching status and location, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

Researchers analyzed American Hospital Association survey data on 3,233 U.S. hospitals from 2008 to 2011, the year federal incentives for the meaningful use of electronic health records began. They found that small, nonteaching and rural hospitals adopt EHRs more slowly than other hospitals.

The researchers found that the share of hospitals with electronic health record systems increased from 5.1 percent in 2010 to 26.6 percent in 2011. The share of hospitals with a comprehensive system rose from 3.6 percent to 8.7 percent. In 2011, 18.4 percent of hospitals had EHR functions in place in at least one clinical unit and 11.2 percent had them across all clinical units.

However, there was a 15 percent gap in system adoptions between large and small hospitals in 2010. That gap widened to 22.2 percent in 2011. Similar divergences based on hospital teaching status and locations were also found. Finally, while hospitals in rural areas saw growth in system adoptions over time, only 19.4 percent had at least a basic EHR system in 2011, the lowest rate.

The researchers advocate for policy makers to redouble their efforts among hospitals that appear to be slow moving and to develop special programs for the minority of hospitals that have no health information technology.

More Articles on Health Information Technology:

Federal Government Pushes for Teamwork to Reach HIT Adoption, Use Goal
Making the Most of Electronic Health Records – It's All About Infrastructure
Using HIT to Improve ED Patient Flow, Performance: Q&A with Dr. Michael Westcott, CMIO of Alegent Health

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