U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently announced that the proportion of U.S. hospitals using health information technology (HIT), such as electronic health records (EHRs), has doubled in the past two years, reaching 35% in 2011, up from 16% in 2009, based on data from an American Hospital Association survey.
Nearly 2,000 hospitals and 41,000 physicians have taken advantage of $3.12 billion in EHR incentive payments from Medicare and Medicaid for ensuring meaningful use of HIT. Fully 85% of hospitals now report that they intend by 2015 to take advantage of HIT incentive payments, which were funded under the HITECH Act provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The government also has created a network of 62 regional extension centers to provide technical guidance and resources. Individual HIT training is available at more than 90 community colleges and universities nationwide. For more information on the incentives, visit www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms.
A recent study of the “connected health maturity index”—systematic leveraging of HIT applications and health information exchanges—in eight countries finds the U.S. leading in several aspects of HIT use and adoption.1 The Reston, Va., consulting firm Accenture interviewed and surveyed health-policy makers, HIT experts, and physicians in the U.S., Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, and Spain.
The U.S. led the way in computerized physician order entry, and 65% of its primary-care physicians (PCPs) use e-prescribing versus 20% in the other surveyed countries. Sixty-two percent of U.S. medical specialists use electronic tools to improve administrative efficiency. However, the report notes, the eight surveyed countries continue to lag behind such acknowledged HIT leaders as Denmark, Sweden, and New Zealand.