CDC: Only One-Third of Physicians Electronically Shared Information in 2015

Nov. 2, 2016
A recent data brief released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) indicates that, despite the fact that EHR systems are fairly commonplace, providers may not be using them to their full potential.

In 2015, close to 78 percent of office-based physicians had a certified electronic health record (EHR) system, up from 74 percent in 2014. However, a recent data brief released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) indicates that, despite the fact that EHR systems are fairly commonplace, providers may not be using them to their full potential.

Only one-third of physicians had used EHR systems to electronically send, receive, integrate, or search for patient health information from other providers, and only 8.7 percent, or one in 10, had used it for all four activities, according to the CDC data brief.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) provides financial incentives to eligible providers using a certified electronic health record (EHR) system. A federal plan to enhance the nation’s health information technology infrastructure was published in 2015 to support information sharing. The CDC report uses the 2015 National Electronic Health Records Survey (NEHRS) to describe the extent to which physicians can electronically send, receive, integrate, and search for patient health information.

Specifically, the data indicates that, in 2015, office-based physicians had electronically sent (38.2 percent), received (38.3 percent), integrated (31.1 percent), or searched (34 percent) for patient health information from other providers.

The activity that varied the most in prevalence nationwide was searching for patient health information, which ranged from 15.1 percent of providers in the District of Columbia to 61.2 percent in Oregon.

The data brief also provided information about state variation in electronic sharing of information in physician offices, and the data indicates that information sharing varies greatly from state to state. The activity that varied the most in prevalence nationwide was searching for patient health information, which ranged from 15.1 percent of providers in the District of Columbia to 61.2 percent in Oregon.

The percentage of physicians who had electronically sent patient health information to other providers ranged from 19.4 percent in Idaho to a little over half (56.3 percent) in Arizona, while the percentage of physicians who had electronically received patient health information from other providers ranged from 23.6 percent in Louisiana and Mississippi to 65.5 percent in Wisconsin.

Physicians who had electronically integrated patient health information from other providers also varied for office-based physicians by state, from 18.4 percent in Alaska to 49.3 percent in Delaware.

Other state-by-state key findings in the data brief for 2015:

  • The percentage of physicians who had sent information electronically to other providers was less than the national percentage in Idaho (19.4 percent), Connecticut (22.7 percent), and New Jersey (24.3 percent)
  • The percentage of physicians who had received information electronically from other providers was less than the national percentage in Louisiana (23.6 percent), Mississippi (23.6 percent), Missouri (24.2 percent), and Alabama (24.3 percent)
  • The percentage of physicians who had received information electronically from other providers was greater than the national percentage in Massachusetts (52.9 percent), Minnesota (55 percent), Oregon (59.2 percent), and Wisconsin (65.5 percent).
  • In the following states, the percentage of physicians who had electronically integrated information from other providers was less than the national percentage: Alaska (18.4 percent), the District of Columbia (18.6 percent), Montana (18.6 percent), Alabama (18.8 percent), and Idaho (20.6 percent)
  • In 2015, the percentage of physicians who had electronically integrated information from other providers was greater in Indiana (44.2 percent) and Delaware (49.3 percent) than the national percentage
  • With regard to physicians who had electronically searched for information from other providers, the following states were less than the national percentage: the District of Columbia (15.1 percent), Mississippi (19.7 percent), Pennsylvania (20.8 percent), Texas (21 percent), Missouri (21.6 percent), and Oklahoma (22.8 percent)
  • The following 10 states were greater than the national percentage with regard to physicians electronically searching for information from other providers: Ohio (47.2 percent), Alaska (47.3 percent), Colorado (47.5 percent), Maryland (47.9 percent), Virginia (48.3 percent), North Carolina (48.8 percent), Delaware (53.9 percent), Wisconsin (54.1 percent), Washington (58 percent), and Oregon (61.2 percent).

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