Pretty much everyone agrees that electronic health records (EHR) are a good thing. The benefits include better-coordinated, safer care; fewer duplicative tests and procedures; and a new data source for measuring and improving health care quality. President Bush and President Obama both called for widespread EHR adoption by...oops, 2014. We're not there yet, but a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on the state of EHR today shows both encouraging progress and how far we still have to go. While just 10% of hospitals had a basic EHR system in 2008, 59% do today. Still, it's one thing to have the system and another to use it effectively. For example, only about one in 10 hospitals can share a patient's electronic health record with the patient. That should improve, though. Much of the growth in EHR adoption was prompted by Medicare and Medicaid payment programs beginning in 2009, and to continue to receive payments, providers must meet increasingly strict standards for how records are used and shared.
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