Majority of doctors go digital

A majority of doctor’s offices and hospitals have adopted electronic health records, according to new studies by the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the studies published in the journal Health Affairs, 78 percent of office-based physicians said they had adopted electronic health records as of 2013.

About half of physicians also said they are able to share patient data electronically with other institutions.

Fifty-nine percent of hospitals said they too had implemented electronic records systems and could share date with other hospitals.

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The Obama administration has been pushing to modernize healthcare records through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’s (CMS) “Meaningful Use” incentive program.

“Patients are seeing the benefits of health IT as a result of the significant strides that have been made in the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records,” said Karen DeSalvo, the Health and Human Services national coordinator for health information technology.

Some of the administration’s efforts have been stalled in Congress.

For example, House lawmakers led by Reps. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) are pushing the CMS to exempt Medicare diagnostic labs that don’t use electronic medical records from the “Meaningful Use” program.

Under the program, Medicare providers that don’t upgrade their systems receive fewer reimbursements from the federal government.

The lawmakers argue that requiring the labs to make their systems electronic is not worth the costs.