More doctors than ever have access to EHRs


The exchange of health information in the cloud among doctors is increasing slowly but surely as the technology becomes available, and physicians can benefit from sharing data. For example, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 was the first initiative to incentivize medical professionals who demonstrate "meaningful use" of interoperable electronic health records to send information via the cloud.

This is when the adoption of EHRs began to take off. In fact, a study by Researchers at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT that recently appeared in the American Journal of Managed Care revealed 31 percent of more than 4,000 physicians exchanged patient clinical summaries with other providers in 2011. Embracing the cloud has allowed other health IT innovations to take flight, such as hospital inventory management solutions and Wi-Fi connections that create opportunities for mobile device usage among doctors and nurses.

EHRs enable better sharing of information
In the past, even if doctors wanted to exchange patient health information with other providers, they didn't have the means to do so. Now EHRs have provided physicians with those capabilities, perhaps changing the quality of care that Americans expect when they need to go to a hospital.

"Very few physicians who don't have EHRs can exchange clinical summaries with patients or other providers or send lab orders electronically," said lead study author Vaishali Patel in an interview with InformationWeek.

The explosion in popularity of EHRs has given doctors the ability to communicate with their patients and other medical professionals like never before. According to the research, 78 percent of physicians using EHRs were able to send prescriptions electronically, 87 percent could view lab results from a mobile device and nearly half were able to exchange patient clinical summaries with another provider.

Primary-care physicians see an increased need for EHRs
The study showed more primary-care physicians use EHRs than doctors who specialize in a particular field. This is perhaps because patients often go to PCPs first and are then sent to specialists if they have a certain health problem. Nonetheless, PCPs often need to collaborate with other doctors, making it even more important for them to have access to EHRs.

"So they have a greater need to exchange information with other entities, whether that's pharmacies, labs or other providers, as compared to specialists," Patel told InformationWeek.