Survey: EHR Use, Stage 2 Prep Still Growing Slowly

The 2013 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey by the National Center for Health Statistics found that while physicians' use of electronic health records (EHRs) continues to increase, their preparedness for Meaningful Use Stage 2 still lags behind.

This year's annual survey revealed that 78.4% of physicians reported using any type of EHR, up from 71.8% just a year ago. Additionally, 48.1% reported using a basic EHR in 2013, compared with 39.6% in 2012.  

Physician adoption of EHRs, however, varied widely across each state. For example, the national average of physicians using a basic EHR was found to be 48%, according to the survey, while the percentage of physicians using any type of EHR ranged from 66% in New Jersey to 94% in Minnesota.

While the percentage of those having a basic EHR has increased 336% since 2006 (the first year NCHS began using the term in its survey), the number physicians reporting their system was ready for Meaningful Use Stage 2 isn't quite as dramatic. For example, while 69% of physicians indicated that they intended to participate in the program, 56% of those said they weren't ready to do so. Also, NCHS contends that the 13% of physicians who noted that their EHR system was ready for Stage 2 because it could support 14 of the 17 core set objectives and three of the six menu set objectives for meaningful use might actually be an overestimate, as some of these systems might not be able to support the remaining objectives. 

The survey also questioned physician readiness for several specific capabilities of the Stage 2 Core objectives for meaningful use. Of these capabilities, 83% of physicians indicated that they were using their EHR to record patient history and demographic information, and 82.6% were using it to order prescriptions. However, only 56.8% of physicians reported they were using the system to provide reminders for guideline-based interventions and 39.1% were using it to report immunization registries electronically.

The 2013 survey, which was conducted between February through June 2013, was the result of mailings and follow up telephone calls to 10,302 office-based physicians, excluding radiologists, anesthesiologists and pathologists.