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US Lags Behind On Physician EMR Use

Posted on February 20, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

US doctors are far behind most of their counterparts in Europe and Australia when it comes to EMR adoption, according to a new study by The Commonwealth Fund.

To get a sense of EMR adoption internationally, the Fund surveyed almost 9,800 primary care physicians representing 11 countries.  The results: the U.S. still  has a ways to go to catch up with peers in other developed nations.

True, U.S. doctors’ uptake of health IT has gone up dramatically, from 46 percent using an EMR in 2009 to 69 percent in 2012, the study found.

That being said, doctors in such countries as the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, the U.K., Australia and Sweden all reported EMR usage rates above 88 percent in 2012.  The country with the lowest adoption rate was Switzerland, which trailed all countries in the survey with a 41 percent EMR uptake rate by physicians in 2012.

As for sophisticated usage of EMRs, defined by the Fund as using at least two electronic functions such as order entry management, generating patient information, generating panel information or clinical decision support, the U.S. didn’t make it onto the list of power users. Only the U.K., Australia and the Netherlands had more than 50 percent of doctors who did so.

Despite the gap in usage between other nations and the U.S., I thought the nearly 70 percent rate of primary care usage was a very positive sign.  I don’t know if this jump is 100 percent attributable to Meaningful Use — I believe PCPs see the writing on the wall and will go with EMRs to manage medical home functions regardless — but either way, it’s a sign that changes major and permanent have happened among the primary care flock.

Still, what really matters isn’t just how many PCPs have bought an EMR. What I’d like to know is how many of those 70 percent are tackling Meaningful Use requirements effectively, and how many are still stymied. If I find that data you can be sure I’ll share it here!

International EMR, EHR — Insider’s Perspective on NeHTA

Posted on September 6, 2011 I Written By

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC in 2009. He can be contacted at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.

A recent reader recently commented on my earlier post, Government Sponsored E-health Initiatives, and brought my attention to his blog, Australian Health Information Technology, which focuses on the Australian government’s EMR initiative NeHTA.

David More MB, PhD, FACHI, describes himself as a ‘dissident’ who is a bit worried about this organisation.  Have to say that he sounds like a fun guy (and certainly very interesting guy) already.  You may want to poke around his site to get more information about NeHTA in general.  He posts interesting tid-bits such as noting the number of weeks late that NeHTA is in delivering their plans for what sounds like stage I of their version of the US Meaningful Use plan.  Dr. More also cites breaking news articles regarding government EHR plans from both Australia and the US.  Bon apetite!

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC.  He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009.  He can be reached at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.

Government Sponsored E-health Initiatives

Posted on August 23, 2011 I Written By

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC in 2009. He can be contacted at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.

Ever heard of NeHTA?  I hadn’t before last week, and I don’t enjoy feeling that I don’t know something around the realm of electronic health records.  Not knowing has always been a psychological, must-climb-that-mountain thing with me.  However, after figuring it out, I decided to bone up on my international electronic medical records knowledge in order to be a little more well-rounded in the world of EMRs.  After all, it’s a small world and I’m interested to know how countries outside the US deal with electronic health technology.

I remembered previously reading about the UK’s national EMR project to bring electronic records to the majority of UK citizens.  This $18 billion initiative of the National Health Service (NHS) has now been largely called a failure (in such articles as Don’t Repeat the UK’s Electronic Health Records Failure).  This is most likely because of the way it was structured, with a limited number of software companies (four in total) allowed into the mix by the government and a lack of accountability to user physicians.  If the EMR vendors were operating in a free market system like the U.S., “customer” doctors could otherwise walk away when the product didn’t meet their needs or desires.  There are a number of assertions in Don’t Repeat the UK’s Electronic Health Records Failure that I think may be a misinterpretation of how similar the UK and US programs actually are (or rather aren’t).

NeHTA, on the other hand, is the National E-Health Transitional Authority, the Austrialian national health program to bring EMRs to the population at large.  The Health Identifiers Initiative program has been criticized for overspending and not meeting established deadlines.  However, their Health Identifiers Initiative is interesting in that it attempts to go  beyond US NPI (National Provider Identifier) program to the point of also requiring all patients to have their own unique numbers.  Currently in the US, only social security numbers (SSN) are unique to each individual in the population.  Western Australia to Push Health Identifiers explains the simple concept.

Although at this point, it’s all still as clear as mud to me, I think it may do me some good to know more about these international EMR programs.  Therefore, I think I’ll explore and write on these from time to time to enhance my understanding of the who, what, when, and where of our fellow brothers and sisters in the world.

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC.  He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009.  He can be reached at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.