D.C. Report: EHR Adoption Rising Among Physicians

July 31, 2012
About 55 percent of physicians have adopted an EHR according to the 2011 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) of office-based providers conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

55 Percent of Physicians Report EHR Adoption in 2011; 71 Percent Would Purchase Same EHR Again About 55 percent of physicians have adopted an EHR according to the 2011 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) of office-based providers conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  About 34 percent of the doctors that adopted an EHR reported using their EHR systems to qualify for meaningful use according to a blog written by Dr. Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Of the doctors that have not yet adopted an EHR system, half have plans to purchase one or implement one already purchased in the next year.  Patients are already benefiting from EHR adoption - three-quarters of the physicians that already adopted an EHR report better patient care. 

NCHS analyzed the data further in a Data Brief released this week. They report that only about half of physicians in physician-owned practices adopted EHRs whereas doctors in community health centers and academic health centers have a much higher rate of EHR adoption, 74 percent and 70 percent respectively.  And, a majority of physicians (71 percent) say they would purchase their EHR system again – a good sign for vendors that physicians have positive experiences with their systems.

Letter Outlines Sequestration Impacts on HHS Back in June; Advocacy Corner reported that Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, asking her to provide details on how the Budget Control Act of 2011 would affect her Department.  This week she answered.  Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources Ellen Murray spelled out what the 7.8 percent cut to the department's finances under the Budget Control Act would mean in a letter to Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) dated June 29:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) could potentially eliminate 2,300 new and competing research project grants, with nearly 300 fewer grants issued by the National Cancer Institute. ... [Up] to 100,000 children would lose Head Start services and approximately 80,000 fewer children would receive child care assistance. In addition, approximately 12,150 fewer patients would receive benefits from our AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Approximately 169,000 fewer individuals would be admitted to substance abuse treatment programs and an estimated 14,200 fewer people who are homeless would receive assistance.

Negotiations are ongoing between some House and Senate members on ways to protect domestic and defense spending from automatic cuts.  For a look at who’s winning on Capitol Hill, see this story from Politico.

House Budget-Setters Cut Funding for AHRQ; ACA Provisions Rescinded A House appropriations panel on Wednesday backed a spending bill for labor, health and education programs that would eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and rescind funding to implement the 2010 health care overhaul.  The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved the draft fiscal 2013 measure mostly along party lines 8-6.  Observers in Washington were taken aback by the defunding of AHRQ – an agency with a 20-year history in HHS.  Several organizations and Democrats on the subcommittee denounced the move.  However, Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), chairman of the Labor-HHS subcommittee, said the decision to abolish AHRQ was simply a budget-balancing decision.  “It all boils down to, we have more government right now than we can afford. We were given an allocation of $150 billion. We did everything we possibly could to meet as many of the needs as we could.  It’s not a reflection on anything other than that we’re just trying to bring our fiscal house back in order.”

In addition to the elimination of AHRQ, the bill would provide a total of $150 billion in discretionary funding, which is $6.3 billion below fiscal 2012 levels and $8.8 billion less than President Obama requested, according to the committee.  Among the ACA provisions being axed is the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

CMS Announces New State Innovation Competition, Advance Payment ACOs In a pair of announcements made this week the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced (1) a new initiative for States to design and test improvements to their healthcare systems and (2) that 15 newly christened ACOs will be participating in the Advance Payments ACO Model.  The State Innovation Models initiativeis a $275 million competitive funding opportunity for States to design and test multi-payer payment and delivery models that deliver high-quality health care and improve health system performance.  Specifically CMS is looking for State innovations related to Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and public health programs.  To learn more about this new initiative, CMS Innovation Center staff will be hosting a webinar on Thursday, July 26, 2012 from 3:00pm to 4:00pm ET to provide an overview of the State Innovation Models initiative.  Register here.

In a separate announcement, CMS said that ACOs operating under the Advance Payment Model have reached 20 with the addition of 15 this week. The Advance Payment Model is designed for physician-based and rural providers who have come together voluntarily to give coordinated high quality care to the Medicare patients they serve. Through the Advance Payment ACO Model, selected participants will receive upfront and monthly payments, which they can use to make important investments in their care coordination infrastructure.  More information on the Advance Payment ACOs can be found here.

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