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Tracking EHR adoption across space, time, specialties

At the University of California Berkeley’s School of Information, data scientists recently chronicled the modern history of EHR systems in bold graphical fashion, depicting the strikingly rapid rate of adoption of EHR at hospitals, doctors’ offices and healthcare organizations. Weaving data from a number of different public and private sources, they painted a uniquely detailed picture set in one long infographic.

Some of the facts that stuck out: Office-based physician use of any type of EHR system soared from 18% in 2001 to 78% last year, while U.S. physician offices using EHR software spiked from 50.3% to 61% just from 2013 to 2014.

Hospitals are helping fund adoption. Some 70.7%  of hospital-owned sites have adopted EHR systems, while only 58.8% of non-hospital-owned healthcare settings are using electronic records. Meanwhile,  sites owned by health systems are also using EHR more than non-health system providers, by a 71.4%-59% margin.

The top five medical specialties in EHR adoption include dialysis, 80.6%; internal medicine/pediatrics, 75.8%; nephrology, 70.5 %; pathology, 69.4%; and radiology, 69.2%.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the privacy imperatives attendant to some sensitive medical issues and the less-regulated state of naturopathic medicine, the bottom five specialties to adopt EHR are: preventive medicine, 35.9%; holistic medicine, 37.2%; psychiatry, 39.7%; bariatrics, 40.6%; and addiction medicine, 44%.

The graphic also delved into state-level EHR adoption rates. The top 5 rankings: Utah, 71.6%; South Dakota, 71.2%; Wyoming, 71%; Iowa, 70.8%; and North Dakota, 69.2%. The bottom 5: Rhode Island, 52,1%; New Jersey, 53%; the District of Columbia, 53.6%; Louisiana, 54.1%; and New York, 54.6%.

The graphics overview also provides a snapshot of the effectiveness of EHR systems, indicating that their use may reduce outpatient costs by 3%. Citing a 2013 study by Kaiser Permanente, for example, the graphics show that EHR use for patients with diabetes led to 29 fewer emergency room visits per 1,000 patients nationally and 13 fewer hospitalizations per 1,000 patients nationally.

The Berkeley folks also hazarded a prediction to cap their brief but visually punchy digest of intriguing EHR stats. By 2019, most physicians will have adopted an EHR system. Leading the charge will be primary care docs in large practices, 90%; specialty care physicians, 78%; and primary care docs in small practices, 76%.

Brought to you by [email protected]: Masters of Data Science