News Feature | April 9, 2014

Some Hospitals Still Use Paper Records

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Paper Records In Hospitals

According to HIMSS, 6 percent of hospitals are still using paper records rather than EHR software

According to the HIMSS Analytics United States EMR Adoption Model, nearly 6 percent of hospitals have not implemented electronic records, opting instead to continue to use paper records. As Forbes reports, hundreds of hospitals in the HIMSS database are still stuck at Stage 0 of the EMR Adoption Model.

“We’re finding that those (providers) not maturing tend to be smaller organizations,” said John Daniels, vice president of strategic relations for HIMSS. Panelists speaking on EHRs in Denver recently explained rural hospitals are already struggling to make an operating profit and the cost of such systems is a challenge even with stimulus dollars.

According to HIMSS, “This is a critical time for health IT. Hospitals and other eligible providers have until 2015 to demonstrate meaningful use of certified Electronic Medical Record (EMR) technology before being penalized. In order to qualify for incentive payments under ARRA, providers must use certified EMRs. Vendors of EMR systems or EMR modules must ensure their products have the features and functionality to be certified, and to enable meaningful use.”

Moving from paper to electronic records is important not just for accessibility but also security. HHS explains, “For paper records, the risk materializes in the form of gaining access to record storage areas; finding records left on counters, exam rooms or copy machines; receiving misdirected fax copies; and other similar events.  Inappropriate access can be accidental or intentional.

“Paper records must be manually filed.  The sheer volume of records increases the likelihood that records are lost because they are incorrectly filed or never returned to the file room.  On the other hand, electronic records are rarely lost because they are never removed from the EHR system.  EHR records are indexed in multiple ways allowing for fast searches and accurate retrieval.”

No matter what kind of records your organization prefers, all providers must be switched to electronic records by 2015. Forbes explains, “About 37 percent of hospitals are in the final three stages of adoption and the percentage is quickly rising. From the third quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2014 alone, the percentage of hospitals at the final three stages of adoption rose across the board. Nearly three percent of hospitals are in the HIMSS final stage and no longer use paper charts to deliver and manage patient care.”