Government outlines what electronic health records should look like over next 10 years

WASHINGTON — The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology last week issued a policy paper, "A 10-Year Vision to Achieve an Interoperable Health IT Infrastructure," which outlines the government's pledge to support interoperable electronic health records to most Americans. 

America is three-quarters of the way there. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, 78% of office-based physicians used any type of electronic health record system, up from 18% in 2001. In 2013, 48% of office-based physicians reported having a system that met the criteria for a basic system, up from 11% in 2006. The percentage of physicians with basic systems by state ranged from 21% in New Jersey to 83% in North Dakota.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 authorized incentive payments to increase physician adoption of electronic health record systems, the CDC noted. The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs are staged in three steps, with increasing requirements for participation. To receive an EHR incentive payment, physicians must show that they are "meaningfully using" certified EHRs by meeting certain objectives.

In 2013, 69% of office-based physicians reported that they intended to participate in "meaningful use" incentives. About 13% of all office-based physicians reported that they both intended to participate in meaningful use incentives and had EHR systems with the capabilities to support 14 of the Stage 2 Core Set objectives for meaningful use.

A Forbes breakdown of the new report noted that individuals, care providers, communities and researchers should have an array of interoperable health IT products and services that allow the health care system to continuously learn and advance the goal of improved health care by 2024. 

"This 'learning health system' should also enable lower healthcare costs, improved population health, truly empower consumers and drive innovation," the Forbes report explained. "For example, all individuals, their families and care providers should be able to send, receive, find and use health information in a manner that is appropriate, secure, timely and reliable."

"Within six years, the plan is for healthcare entities, including consumers, to apply IT to demonstrate better health outcomes to reduce healthcare costs," the Forbes report added. "That’s right in line with the expectations for Meaningful Use Stage 3, which likely will begin in 2017 and run until incentive money expires in 2021."

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