News Feature | July 9, 2015

Three-Quarters Of Rhode Island Physicians Don't Use The State's HIE

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Digital Omnivore Doctors

Report attributes low numbers to lack of computers and interoperability.

A report has found nearly three-quarters of Rhode Island physicians still have not signed up to send or receive data through the state’s HIE CurrentCare. In addition, the 2014 Rhode Island state Health Information Technology Survey

While the survey did find improvements in the adoption and expansion of technology among physicians, it also demonstrated a clear lack of participation in CurrentCare, the state’s HIE that has received over $25 million in federal funding as well as millions in state funds, according to GoLocal News.

Among the positive signs revealed by the report were:

  • Since 2009, HIT adoption among physicians has increased for all four publicly-reported measures;
  • HIT adoption is highest among office-based primary care physicians (PCPs);
  • Compared to hospital-based physicians, office based physicians reported using EHRs outside of regular working hours more frequently;
  • EHR adoption increased by nearly 30 percent;
  • E-prescribing increased by 95 percent.

The most troubling findings of the report, however, related to the numbers who reported being familiar with or using the state’s HIE, CurrentCare. According to the report, approximately 20 to 25 percent of all respondents were familiar with its components, and yet nearly 75 percent of physicians are not signed up to view or receive data, and only half of those who are signed up are using CurrentCare for any percentage of their patients.

When CurrentCare was established, it was touted as a tool for hospitals and physicians to manage and share EHRs, a goal that is high on the list of priorities HHS has established for improving patient care. “It will make docs lives easier – eventually,” said Rhode Island Medical Society Government Relations Director Steven DeToy, of EHRs. “But so far, it’s only made insurance companies and EHR companies happy.”

The Rhode Island Quality Institute, which manages CurrentCare, recently touted the addition of Lifespan and Care New England’s EPIC EHR system to CurrentCare and announced last fall that CurrentCare enrollment topped 400,000 patients. Still, the state HIT survey showed less than 20 percent of physicians used CurrentCare in 2014. Low use has been attributed to physicians not having a computer or not having one that is CurrentCare compatible.

“First, not every physician has a computer that they use for EHRs,” DeToy explained. “Second, some of those who do, have a system that isn’t CurrentCare compatible as of right now, but hopefully will be. There have been some proprietary issues. Certain EHRs don’t allow physicians to prescribe electronically. But now that Rhode Island Hospital is on board, having EPIC integrated should speed things along.”