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Electronic Medical Records Drive Physicians to Stay, Go

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, November 29, 2012

But his thinking changed gradually. He remembers attending a vendor meetingwhere a show of hands was asked for physicians who weren't getting EMRs. "My hand was the only one up," Fine recalls. "Here I am, I thought, at 45 years old, at my peak of my career, and would be recognized among my peers as an outlier."

Fine converted. He is far from alone. More than 69% of primary care physicians reported using EMRs in 2012, up from fewer than 46% in 2009, according to a newly released Commonwealth Fund report published in Health Affairs.

Despite the spread of EMRs, U.S. primary care physicians trail doctors in other countries. The report says that U.S. and Canadian doctors lag behind the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia in use of EMRs and healthcare IT to perform a range of functions, like generating patient information and ordering diagnostic tests.

Even so, U.S. doctors are exceeding goals set by the federal government. In August, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that 120,000 eligible health care professionals and more than 3,300 hospitals had qualified to receive incentive payments under the "meaningful use" rules for EHR adoption that went into effect in January 2011. That exceeds HHS's goal of 100,000 set earlier in 2011.

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