Physicians embracing e-health records, CDC says

The number of physicians moving to electronic health records jumped by more than one-third since 2001, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly one in four physicians, or 23.9 percent, reported using full or partial electronic medical records in their office practice in 2005, a 31 percent increase from the 18.2 percent reported in 2001, the CDC said yesterday in the latest data from its National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. CDC is an agency of the Health and Human Services Department.

Physicians in the Midwest and West were more likely to use electronic medical records than those in the Northeast. Physicians in metropolitan statistical areas were more likely to use e-health systems than those in nonmetropolitan areas.

Only one in 10 physicians, however, used systems with all four of the basic functions considered necessary for a complete electronic medical record. Those are computerized orders for prescriptions, computerized orders for tests, reporting of test results and physician notes.

Although these estimates demonstrate progress toward the goal of electronic health records, much needs to be done, the report said. CDC's National Center for Health Statistics received responses from 1,281 office-based physicians in 2005 for the survey that can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs.

"Solo practitioners are the least likely group of physicians to use them," the report said. Solo practitioners make up about two-thirds of medical practices.

The most widely used feature of electronic health records was electronic patient demographics, with 21.4 percent of physicians having that capability. But only 5.4 percent of the physicians report having electronic public health reporting capabilities.

Mary Mosquera is a staff writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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