Study: California Docs Not Ready for Meaningful Use

A California HealthCare Foundation survey found that while 71% physicians are using electronic health records systems, only 30% have configured their applications to meet 12 of the meaningful use objectives required to receive the financial aid authorized by the HITECH Act. It also found that 70% of physicians who are eligible for the incentive payments didn’t have EHRs that meet these meaningful use objectives.

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco conducted the survey among 5,384 physicians across the state for the Oakland-based organization. They found that of the specific meaningful use requirements included in the survey, only 40% of responding physicians had an EHR application with the capacity to provide patients with access to their own electronic records and 61% of the physicians had an EHR system with the ability to take clinical notes. The survey also indicated that physicians who use EHRs that can meet the 12 meaningful use standards included in the survey were more likely to be satisfied with their EHRs than physicians with EHRs that can’t.

According to the study, most physicians also aren’t very well-versed with the rules of the incentive program. For example, while it found that only 17% of physicians statewide would be eligible for the program, more than half of physicians in the survey didn’t believe they were and wanted more information about it, and 37% expected to apply for the program. Further, 8% who were not eligible said they planned to apply.

Researchers indicated that the California Department of Health Care Services should continue its ongoing efforts to educate physicians about the eligibility criteria for the EHR incentive program, with a high priority placed on outreach to physicians in small practices, community clinics and those who are using an EHR system that currently lacks the capacity to meet the meaningful use objectives.