EMR Adoption Higher When Fewer Privacy Laws Exist

Posted on May 9, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Everyone knows that HIPAA rules the privacy world of healthcare.  However, each state actually has their own laws governing the privacy of patient data and in particular data stored in an EMR.  I recently came across an interesting study talking about how those states which have fewer privacy laws for patient data actually have higher EMR adoption rates.  Here’s a short section from the article:

State laws in place to protect patients’ confidentiality may be causing some hospitals to be more skittish about adopting electronic medical records systems, a factor that could impede the push for the industry to go paperless, a study says.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Virginia recently concluded that state privacy regulations reduce aggregate EMR adoption by between 20% and 30%. States that got rid of some of their regulations experienced a 21% gain in hospital EMR adoption rates around the years the laws changed compared with just an 11% gain in states that kept them intact, said the study.

This is really interesting, because I would have initially just called privacy laws an excuse. However, if this study holds true, then it’s more than just an excuse for why EMR adoption is low. Granted, it’s just one of many that people are using. I also think it’s worth noting that this is talking about EMR adoption in hospitals. I’m not sure most small doctors’ offices really pay enough attention to HIPAA and privacy rules for it to affect their adoption of EMR.