CDC: Health records use on the rise

Emergency departments need to understand records to implement them effectively and achieve Meaningful Use.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published information regarding the use of electronic health records during a five-year period between 2006 and 2011 in emergency and outpatient departments at hospitals.

According to this data, the amount of hospital outpatient departments (OPDs) that employed EHRs grew steadily throughout this time in most cases, with more than 73 percent of OPDs attesting to records use in 2011. For hospital emergency departments (EDs), the number was even higher, with nearly 84 percent using these records in the same year, a jump of almost 13 percent from the year before.

Furthermore, emergency departments that used electronic records were better able to meet various Meaningful Use requirements, such as recording patient problems, providing warnings for different medications and ordering prescriptions. The number of OPDs that fulfilled these requirements increased as well. Overall, 16.4 percent of OPDs were able to support Stage 1 by 2011, as opposed to 14.4 percent of EDs.

Dr. James Augustine of the American College of Emergency Physicians spoke to Medscape Medical News and referenced the CDC's findings when explaining why some emergency departments have not made large strides in achieving Meaningful Use goals, despite these figures.

"The ED modules may not yet have had all of the functions that allow you to order drugs and provide warnings and provide reminders on specific guidelines," he said. "An increasing number of EHRs now do allow you to perform those functions, but they might have been added later than what the CDC is picking up."

Adoption needs to be accompanied with successful implementation and understanding for practices and health centers to get the most out of their technology and still meet extensive patient demands. Increase the role that EHRs play for your medical organization by collaborating with a healthcare IT consulting firm.

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