California leads the nation in healthcare information technology adoption, but nearly three-quarters of medical groups in the state still rely on paper records, according to a new report by the California HealthCare Foundation.
Some 37% of physicians in California said they use electronic health records, compared with 28% nationally, according to the not-for-profit healthcare research foundation. The larger the medical practice, the more likely physicians are to use EHRs. For instance, 79% of Kaiser Permanente physicians said they use EHRs. But physicians in medium and solo practices reported much less EHR use, 25% and 13% respectively, according to the report.
Yet even those physicians using EHRs aren't taking full advantage of them, the report authors found, with only 12% using alerts to warn them about potential adverse drug events, electronic reminders to inform patients about follow-up care or electronic warnings on abnormal laboratory results.
In addition, only 13% of California hospitals have fully implemented EHRs and only 11% are using bar-coding technology to administer drugs, according to the report. "Institutions that lag behind on HIT are likely to continue seeing avoidable treatment errors," said Jonah Frohlich, senior program officer at the foundation.
The major barrier to EHR adoption is cost, reported 59% of respondents, followed by difficulty and expense of implementation (42%), uncertainty about health IT vendor selection (31%), and resistance to changes in practice style (30%).
The report was based on data from 2005 to 2007 from eight sources, including the American Hospital Association, California Medical Association, Harris Interactive and Manhattan Research. -- by Rebecca Vesely
What do you think? Post a comment on this article and share your opinion with other readers. Submit your letter to Modern Healthcare Online at [email protected]. Please be sure to include your hometown and state, along with your organization and title.