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Health Information Technology in the United States 2013

Cover of Report

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released the Health Information Technology in the United States 2013: Better Information Systems for Better Care Report.

According to the report “since 2010, the proportion of hospitals having a basic electronic health record (EHR) has tripled.” With “more than 38 percent of physicians reporting having adopted basic EHRs in 2012.” With incentive programs for health information technology (HIT) adoption, such as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Incentive Program  many hospitals were able to take steps and move toward EHR system adoption. The report shows that while adoption in hospitals was large, the increase in adoption of EHR systems by physicians in private practice was not as large. Small practices continue to lag behind in EHR adoption and will likely need continued support from agencies such as Regional Extension Centers (RAC).

In a positive finding the report shows that “physicians and hospitals alike appear to be adopting EHRs with more sophisticated capabilities that enable improvements in the delivery of care and management of patient populations.” The report also suggests that many hospitals are adopting at least as basic EHR system (44 percent) while only 16.7 percent of hospitals have already adopted a comprehensive EHR system.

According to the report four areas where most organizations which have adopted EHRs lag behind are related to patient clinic summaries and include the ability for the patient to view quality data, receive guideline reminders, receive patient e-copy of health information, and provide patient clinical summaries.

The report goes on to compare HIT implementation in the US to HIT implementation in other countries as well as provide additional insights into the development of Health Information Exchanges and their role in healthcare.

The final chapter of the report deals specifically with “Improving Patient Education with EHRs” an area many hospital and consumer health librarians are familiar with. According to the report “little is known about best approaches for using EHRs to provide patients with materials that are understandable and actionable for patients, especially those with limited health literacy and English proficiency.” The report provides a good study of vendors in the EHR industry and specifically looks at patient health information portals and delivery.

The report suggests that “U.S. providers could do more using HIT to engage patients with educational materials tailored to an individual’s diagnosis and health literacy level.”

Overall, this is a valuable report for those involved in HIT and EHR implementation. Using the data provided in this report librarians can demonstrate the value of consumer health information resources such as MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus Connect in meeting Meaningful Use objectives.

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