New data about hospital and physician EHR adoption and use show that patients are the beneficiaries of the availability and access to their electronic health information, according to an announcement by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
“Electronic health records are transforming relationships between patients and their health care providers,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a public 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.“
According to CMS, the adoption of EHRs and use of health information exchangeby providers are giving patients unprecedented access to health information while ensuring that the security and privacy of this sensitive data is being maintained.

“More patients than ever before are seeing the benefits of their providers using electronic health records to help better coordinate and manage their care,” explained National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM. “These data show that health care professionals are not only adopting electronic health records rapidly, they’re also using them to improve care.”


The positive data about EHR adoption and HIE use that Tavenner and Mostashari are pointing to are the result of the growth of the EHR Incentive Programs, which began in 2011 and is about to begin its next phase (i.e., Stage 2 Meaningful Use).


The latest figures show what a difference three years of meaningful use can make. The 80 percent of eligible hospitals (EHs) and more than 50 percent of eligible professionals (EPs) who have adopted a certified EHR technology and achieve meaningful use have made significant changes to the way healthcare is delivered to patients:


  • More than 190 million electronic prescriptions have been sent by doctors, physician’s assistants and other health care providers using EHRs, reducing the chances of medication errors.
  • Health care professionals sent 4.6 million patients an electronic copy of their health information from their EHRs.
  • More than 13 million reminders about appointments, required tests, or check-ups were sent to patients using EHRs.
  • Providers have checked drug and medication interactions to ensure patient safety more than 40 million times through the use of EHRs.
  • Providers shared more than 4.3 million care summaries with other providers when patients moved between care settings resulting in better outcomes for their patients.


With Stage 2 Meaningful Use about to begin in October 2013 for EHs and January 2014 for EPs and its requirements for the exchange of health information with providers and patients, these figures are destined to grow so long as participation in the EHR Incentive Programs holds true as meaningful use transitions to sustained use.


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