News Feature | November 5, 2013

ONC Study Results "Encouraging" For Physicians Using EHRs

Source: Health IT Outcomes
Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

EHR Doctor With Tablet

The latest ONC study shows the majority of physicians using EHRs can also send medication orders and exchange test results

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) latest study, published in The American Journal of Managed Care, shows “a majority of office-based physicians were able to view lab results and send medication data electronically. The study also finds that one-third of ambulatory care physicians could send and/or receive patient clinical summaries with other providers.

“‘The results of this study are encouraging because they show that a majority of physicians who use electronic health records (EHRs) can electronically exchange test results, medication data and clinical care summaries with patients, all of which are integral to better care coordination and ultimately necessary for universal interoperability,’ said Vaishali Patel, an ONC senior advisor and lead author of the study in a press release.  ‘As Stage 2 of Meaningful Use moves forward, it will be important to continue monitoring physicians’ exchange capabilities and actual exchange activity to ensure that health information follows the patient wherever they go.’"

Using the data from 2011, the study’s authors say their study serves as baseline for physician capabilities to exchange key types of information. Authors suggest that the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentives Programs and the State Health Information Exchange Program may drive improvement in physician exchange capability. The study also suggests that health-care delivery reforms contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including Accountable Care Organization/shared savings programs are likely to provide financial incentives to spur even greater health information exchange.

“‘Specifically, accountable care organizations, which allow entities to share cost savings, may create a business case for HIE by giving providers greater financial incentives to exchange information regarding their patients with each other. Additionally, financial penalties for high hospital readmission rates, for example, may spur greater care coordination between hospitals and ambulatory care providers to better manage transitions of care through the use of care summaries,’ ONC researchers wrote.”

The top findings of the study are as follows:

  • 55 percent of all physicians had computerized capability to send prescriptions electronically vs. 78 percent of physicians with an EHR
  • 67 percent of all physicians could view electronic lab results vs. 87 percent of physicians with an EHR
  • 42 percent could incorporate lab results into their EHR vs. 73 percent of physicians with an EHR
  • 35 percent could send an electronic order to a lab vs. 54 percent of physicians with an EHR
  • 38 percent could provide clinical summaries to patients vs. 61 percent of physicians with an EHR
  • 31 percent exchanged patient clinical summaries with another provider vs. 49 percent of physicians with an EHR