Which States Excel at EHR Adoption? (And Which Struggle?)

To risk stating the obvious, for many health care organizations these days, electronic health records (EHRs) are both an essential part of their modern medical practices and (when not implemented well) a source of endless frustration. But according to a new study from think tank the Center for Data Innovation, some states have excelled when it comes to providers’ meaningful adoption of EHRs—while providers and organizations in other states are still struggling to do so. As Fierce Healthcare first reported, the Center, whose report examined states’ progress on 25 data-related measures (including use of e-prescribing, broadband deployment, and use of EHRs), found significant disparities regarding the degree to which states have embraced the use of data—including in the field of health care. “Health data underlies many efforts to reduce health-care costs, increase patient safety, and improve quality of care,” the authors of the report, entitled “The Best States for Data Innovation,” write in discussing the importance of EHRs and other health IT initiatives.

The Center’s report specifically examined states’ progress when it came to the use of electronic health records, finding both successes and room for growth. “Some states are actively building the necessary foundation for a thriving data economy and others are lagging,” the researchers note. Leading the pack when it comes to providers’ and hospitals’ use of EHRs: Massachusetts, which also ranks top among states for overall. Rounding out the top five are Wyoming, Washington State, Minnesota, and Indiana. One key reason for these states’ success may be the support that officials there have provided to health care organizations: “While every state operates a voluntary EHR incentive program to spur adoption, some states have taken additional actions to drive EHR adoption,” the authors explain, highlighting a Massachusetts EHR working group with other states and a free, fully certified EHR platform made available to Wyoming Medicaid providers starting in 2012.

As for the states that are struggling when it comes to embracing EHRs, New Jersey ranks at the bottom of the list, with Rhode Island, Louisiana, Hawaii, and Vermont rounding out the bottom five. The Center does note, however, that across the board all 50 states have made progress with EHRs over the past several years. For example, “In 2015, 84 percent of hospitals had at least a basic electronic health record (EHR) system, compared with 16 percent in 2010,” the researchers note, adding also that “in every state, at least six out of 10 hospitals utilize a basic EHR system.” They encourage state policymakers to provide more assistance to organizations to “successfully enable data-driven innovation.”

Click here to read the article from Fierce Healthcare on the 50-state report on data innovation.

Click here to read the study from the Center for Data Innovation on state data innovation efforts. 


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