Background: Meaningful use, as defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, will require the aggregation of patient data to enable population assessment. Little is known about the proportion of physicians who are able to meet meaningful use criteria or their use of electronic health records (EHRs) to manage patient populations.
Objective: To evaluate physicians' reports of EHR adoption and ease of use and their ability to use EHRs for patient panel management.
Design: National mailed survey of practicing physicians (response rate of 60%).
Setting: Late 2011 and early 2012.
Participants: 1820 primary care physicians and specialists in office-based practices.
Measurements: Proportion of physicians who have a basic EHR and meet meaningful use criteria and ease of use of computerized systems designed for patient population management tasks.
Results: A total of 43.5% of physicians reported having a basic EHR, and 9.8% met meaningful use criteria. Computerized systems for managing patient populations were not widespread; fewer than one half of respondents reported the presence of computerized systems for any of the patient population management tasks included in the survey. Physicians with such functionalities reported that these systems varied in ease of use. Physicians with an EHR that met meaningful use criteria were significantly more likely than those not meeting the standard to rate panel management tasks as easy.
Limitation: Ease-of-use measures are subjective.
Conclusion: Few physicians could meet meaningful use criteria in early 2012 and using computerized systems for the panel management tasks was difficult. Results support the growing evidence that using the basic data input capabilities of an EHR does not translate into the greater opportunity that these technologies promise.
Primary funding source: Commonwealth Fund and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.