A study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Use of Electronic Health Record Systems by Office-Based Pediatricians, revealed that the percentage of pediatricians using EHRs rose more than 20% in three years, based on a survey administered both years.

In 2009, the percentage was 58%. The follow-up in 2012 reported a 79% adoption rate among pediatricians. It also noted that hospitals and large clinics were likely to have higher adoption rates (90%) than smaller practices with one or two physicians (56%).

A possible explanation for the surge in EHR use may be the Meaningful Use requirements as physicians receive incentive payments for participating in the program. For pediatricians, in particular, 20% or more of their patients must be eligible for Medicaid and, in 2012, the study found a typical pediatrician using an EHR system to have more than 40% of patients using public health insurance. Providers in rural areas were more likely to adopt an EHR system due to a larger population with public insurance.

However, despite the increase in EHR adoption, less than half of pediatricians used a basic or fully functional EHR. The study asked participants what they perceived to be a barrier to adopting an EHR system:

  • Cost: 63.5 %
  • Productivity loss: 74.9%
  • Finding a system that meets provider needs: 72.3%
  • Concerns that system could become obsolete: 60%
  • Resistance to adoption: 59.5%
  • Lack of resources to select and implement an EHR: 57.2%
  • Concerns on ROI: 53%

Surprisingly, only 38.8% of respondents listed concern over confidentiality of medical information as a barrier to adoption. When asked for suggestions to improve the adoption rate, the following were the top responses:

  • More pediatric focused systems: 60%
  • More pediatric-specific measures: 60%
  • Support for EHR maintenance and improvement: 54%
  • Higher start-up cost reimbursement: 52%

Overall, 50% of pediatricians reported that EHRs are a necessary technology for improving patient care. The next steps should include addressing physician concerns on costs and implementation, while also improving the systems themselves to better adapt to physician needs.

Author: Apoorva Anupindi

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