Amazingly Rapid Growth in Use of EHR Systems Across the U.S.

Jeanne Lambrew | White House Blog | May 24, 2013

Until the President made investments in health information technology by signing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, our health care system ran largely on paper. In 2008, only 17 percent of physicians were using advanced electronic health records and just 9 percent of hospitals had adopted electronic health records. Information is the lifeblood of modern medicine, but information can’t get where it needs to go when it’s on paper. That means doctors didn’t have the best information at their fingertips when making diagnosis and treatment decisions; that patients didn’t have easy access to their medical records; and that information is dropped when patients leaving a hospital transition to a nursing home or home care.That’s why the President put in place a series of policies to promote adoption of electronic health records as well as their deployment in ways that improve care quality while reducing costs.

This week, HHS [U.S. Department of Health & Human Services] announced that we have reached new milestones in wiring the health care system. More than half of eligible providers – doctors, dentists and other eligible providers – have qualified for and received incentive payments for adoption of certified electronic health records, exceeding the Department’s target for the end of 2013. Moreover, nearly 80 percent of eligible hospitals have reached this milestone.

The increase has been rapid; adoption of electronic health records doubled among office based physicians from 2008 to 2012 and quadrupled in hospitals. Incredible progress has been made, thanks to the hard work of our health care providers and public policies that support their efforts, like the Recovery Act and the Affordable Care Act.


From Installation to Use and then Transformation

Healthcare is following in the path of many other industries that finally bit the bullet and heavily invested in computer technology. First come the acquisition and deployment of information technology (IT). Then, as users get over the trauma of installing and using these new systems, they start to see the potential benefits, begin adjusting their business practices, and finally embrace the technology and begin to radically transform and improve the way their industry works. Think of the banking systems of the 1980's and where we are today with ATM machines, banking networks, and online banking by citizens. We're going down the same path - only its 20 years later than the financial industry did it. Big time transformation will finally be coming to healthcare over this next decade. Exciting times!