Many Doctors Failing to Meet U.S. Rules on Electronic Health Records

Mike O'Brien

The process of digitizing current paper health records is an inevitable development and the U.S. government is giving the healthcare industry billions of dollars in incentives to use electronic health records (EHRs).

But while many organizations have the necessary EHR software, new research shows nearly 40 percent of healthcare providers are unhappy with their system.

The federal government has pumped $14.6 billion into EHR systems and official statistics show that more than 50 percent of physicians and 80 percent of hospitals are using electronic records.

But according to the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, 40 percent of healthcare providers polled said they wouldn’t recommend their EHR to a colleague.

More than 30 percent said they are in the process of buying a new EHR system to replace their existing software, reports.

In 2009, the government defined "meaningful use" of EHR systems, which involved a list of tasks such as tracking referrals or filling prescriptions online.

But many healthcare providers complain that the systems are hard to use and don’t share information easily.

In its report, Annals said fewer than 1 in 10 doctors used electronic records last year to U.S. standards, with less than half all those surveyed, 44 percent, having any system in place at all.

Survey leader Catherine M. DesRoches, of Mathematica Policy Research Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said the findings "should be of concern to policy makers."

She said the government needs to rethink the rules, adding: "Significant progress needs to be made before such systems are believed to be usable by most physicians."

Ross Koppel, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, said: "What these findings illustrate, unfortunately, is that efforts intended to improve quality and reduce health-care costs instead seem to have stimulated sales and implementations of systems that do not work very well.

"We must shift from cheering health information technology implementations to demanding health information technology utility."

The most pressing issues of EHR implementation will be tackled at IDGA’s DoD/VA EHR summit in September. For full details, go to