EHR use in the United States

Health Affairs has an interesting article titled “How common are electronic health records in the United States? A summary of the evidence“. The authors reviewed the literature to try and determine the availability of and use of electronic health records (EHRs).

The short answer to the authors’ question is: not very much. A reported 24% of physicians and 5% of hospitals have EHRs of some sort. Actually using the EHRs for clinical care (e.g., prescriptions or decision support) is another matter entirely. Personally, I was very surprised by the numbers, expecting hospitals to use electronic systems more than physicians. Maybe I’ve been exposed to the Canadian (well, mostly Ontario) environment too much, and in particular the hospital sector.

One thing I liked about this article was how the authors tried to break down the data into different areas: in-patient, out-patient, physician and safety-net providers (Who are these people? Are they paramedics and the sort?).

Looks like there’s still plenty of work to be done still before EHRs become the norm.