While electronic health record adoption rates have been quite impressive, there are still several skeptics in the crowd.

According to Professor Jaeyong Bae of the College of Health and Human Sciences at Northern Illinois University, the lack of adoption can be attributed to a fear of change among providers. A 2015 article from NIU explains why the benefits of EHR software are greater than the potential risks.

After years of reliance on paper records, fax machines, and manual input, it’s only natural that physicians would be wary of implementing a digital system that brings with it its own set of worries. There are many concerns held by EHR critics, as well as by physicians themselves, such as: security breaches, meaningful use attestation, HIPAA violations, etc.

A study published in March 2015 by Bae and William E. Encinosa, suggests that implementing EHR software could lead to fewer adverse drug events (ADEs). The study examined what effect the 5 medication elements of the meaningful use requirements had on adverse drug events caused by hospitals. Overall, their findings showed that adopting all 5 core elements led to a reduction in ADEs.

  • Hospitals that reported costs as a major barrier to meaningful use were able to reduce adverse drug events by 35%.
  • Hospitals that reported the 5 elements in their top challenges had 69% reductions as compared to a 45% reduction in hospitals that did not.
  • Hospitals with physicians resisting MU saw a 14% increase in adverse drug events as compared to a 52% reduction when there was no resistance to meaningful use.

The HITECH Act and the 2009 stimulus package, along with the EHR Incentive Program offered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has been a major driving factor in EHR adoption. Considering the results of the study, however, without enough physician support for EHRs, the systems will not be able to make the significant impact they have the potential for.

It is still a new technology, constantly being redeveloped and optimized. Back in 2015, the fear was that physicians might have some difficulty adjusting to the new program and may incorrectly record data. “There’s a learning curve,” Bae mentioned in the article, but when considering the big picture, “the information is more widely accessible,” which is the main goal of electronic health records. As providers have become used to the new systems, EHRs have the potential to make significant improvements for hospitals and practices.

Author: Apoorva Anupindi

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