CMS touts wider adoption of electronic health records

"Electronic health records (EHRs) are transforming relationships between patients and their healthcare providers," CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement.

"EHRs improve care coordination, reduce duplicative tests and procedures, help patients take more control of their health and result in better overall health outcomes."

Under the 2009 Recovery Act, Medicare and Medicaid must provide financial incentives to healthcare providers for adopting electronic health records and information-sharing.

Providers will be penalized starting in 2015 if they cannot demonstrate "meaningful use" of those systems.

The adoption of EHRs was the topic of a Senate Finance Committee hearing Wednesday, where lawmakers praised the trend toward investment in health information technology.

Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called on regulators to remember in the development of new EHR rules the "burdens that providers face." 

"I do not want to see progress stalled on implementing the use of technologies," Hatch said.

"But if we ignore problems along the way and simply expect everyone to catch up, we will end up in worse shape."