Study: More doctors adopting electronic record keeping

Medical records at the South Los Angeles Family Health Clinic.
Medical records at the South Los Angeles Family Health Clinic.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

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One in four doctors used electronic record keeping for all of their work in 2012, up from just 4 percent in 2007, according to data released Tuesday from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Overall the number of doctors using an electronic health records system for all or part of their record keeping more than doubled during that time, to 72 percent.

"Those who are using it to the max, they are getting a lot more mileage out of use of EHR [electronic health records] and are able to use it to provide better care for their patients," said Esther Hing, a survey statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics

Experts attribute the increase to a 2009 law that allows Medicare and Medicaid to pay doctors incentives for switching to electronic record keeping -- if they meet certain requirements. (As of January 2014, nearly 35,000 physicians in California have been paid $586 million through the incentive process.)

The end goal, said Hing, is to have a majority of doctors' record keeping fully computerized. Electronic record keeping allows doctors to tap into historical data, lab results and medication lists, as well as share their insights with specialists and other doctors, she said.

Primary care physicians have flocked to the electronic systems, younger doctors are big users and larger practices are computerizing their record keeping at a faster clip than smaller ones, added Hing.

Some highlights from the report: