81% of hospitals have basic EHR programs; advanced utilization lags

The implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) has occurred in the majority of hospitals but healthcare organizations often do not use the platform for advanced measures to improve outcomes. In a study published in Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, researchers examined the rate of hospitals using advanced EHR functions.

The study examined survey data from the from 2008-15 American Hospital Association Information Technology Supplement. Researchers identified organizations with “basic” and “comprehensive” EHR adoption and followed with supplementary questions to assess advanced EHR use for performance and patient engagement.

Results showed that 80.5 percent of hospitals had a basic EHR system, a 5.3 percent increase from 2014. Just 37.5 percent of hospitals had utilized eight out of 10 EHR performance measurements, and 41.7 percent had utilized eight out of 10 patient engagement functions.

“Hospital EHR adoption is widespread and many hospitals are using EHRs to support performance measurement and patient engagement. However, this is not happening across all hospitals,” concluded first author Julia Adler-Milstein, PhD, and colleagues. “While the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act resulted in widespread hospital EHR adoption, use of advanced EHR functions lags and a digital divide appears to be emerging, with critical-access hospitals in particular lagging behind.”