Calif. Physicians' EHR Systems Fall Short of Meaningful Use Criteria

TOPIC ALERT:

Although most California physicians use electronic health record systems, only 30% of them use EHR systems that have the ability to meet the requirements of the meaningful use program, according to a report by UC-San Francisco researchers, Modern Physician reports (Lee, Modern Physician, 6/15).

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

The report summarizes findings from a 2011 survey that UCSF and the California Medical Board conducted for the California Department of Health Care Services and the California HealthCare Foundation (UCSF release, 6/14). CHCF publishes California Healthline.

Report Findings

Researchers found that:

  • 71% of surveyed California physicians said they use an EHR system at their main practice location (Modern Physician, 6/15);
  • 61% said they use an EHR system that allows them to record clinical notes; and
  • 45% said they use an EHR system that allows them to generate reports of quality indicators such as the percentage of patients with diabetes who received recommended lab tests.

California physicians at larger health care organizations were more likely to report having an EHR system than physicians at smaller practices, the report found (McCann, Healthcare IT News, 6/15).

The report also found that more than half of surveyed California physicians who qualified for EHR incentive payments from Medi-Cal -- California's Medicaid program -- did not believe they were eligible for the payments.

Recommendations

The report's authors recommended that California officials and policymakers:

  • Encourage EHR use among small physician practices;
  • Educate physicians about eligibility criteria for Medi-Cal incentive payments;
  • Emphasize the importance of using EHR systems that meet the meaningful use requirements; and
  • Evaluate whether EHR availability and meaningful use attestation increased after Medi-Cal incentive payments were distributed (Modern Physician, 6/15).

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