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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Vanderbilt: Study Finds Private Practice Physicians Less Likely to Maintain Electronic Records

Modernizing health records by making them electronic has gained momentum as technology evolves and policies push health care toward digital solutions. But the same trend has not been evident for physicians who remain in private practice, new research finds.

The research led by Dr. Jordan Everson, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, finds striking differences in use of electronic health records (EHRs) among more than 291,000 physicians included in the study.

Forty-nine percent of physicians who had remained independent since 2011 and were surveyed in the study attested to Meaningful Use of EHRs, such as electronic prescribing of medications and online patient portals — at least once. In contrast, 70 percent of doctors in both group practices and working for hospitals during the study’s timeline attested to meaningful use.

Meaningful Use of EHRs was first defined in 2009 by the America Reinvestment & Recovery Act, and financial incentives were offered to physicians and health systems that serve Medicare and Medicaid patients. The program was voluntary, and after 2015 the CMS began reducing payments to providers if there was no expansion in adoption of EHR Meaningful Use practices.

About half of independent physicians who participated in the EHR incentive program in the first years — 2011 through 2013 — left the program by 2015. In the same time frame, less than 20 percent of physicians who worked for hospitals left the program.

Dr. Everson’s research was conducted with Dr. Melinda Buntin, Mike Curb Professor of Health Policy at Vanderbilt, and Dr. Michael Richards, an associate professor at Baylor.

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