The Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2010

Despite all the talk about digitizing the health-care world, only 11.9% of U.S. hospitals had adopted at least basic electronic medical records by last year, and only about 2% had done enough to qualify for future government financial incentives, a study finds.

The study, published online in Health Affairs, covers responses from 3,101 hospitals surveyed by the American Hospital Association. It was conducted between March and November of last year, which meant it couldn’t measure adoption of the exact elements that must be in place to qualify for a chunk of $27 billion in incentives starting next year. Those so-called “meaningful use” requirements weren’t finalized by the government until this summer.

Study lead author Ashish Jha, an associate professor of public health at the Harvard School of Public Health and senior adviser to the under secretary for health at the Veterans Health Administration, says the researchers mapped the responses as closely as possible to the final requirements, and that they were generous in giving credit to hospitals. So the actual number who qualify would probably be smaller than 2%, he says.

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