Use of electronic prescribing has expanded among Massachusetts physicians

Research Activities, January 2010, No. 353

Massachusetts physicians substantially boosted their use of electronic health records (EHRs) in 2007 compared with 2005, according to a new study. By 2007, more than one-third of practices in the State had EHRs. These findings come from a 2005 survey of 1,144 physicians practicing in Massachusetts and a followup 2007 survey of nearly 80 percent of those physicians.

Both surveys asked doctors about their adoption of EHRs and assessed their use of 10 key features of these systems. The features included basic and advanced clinical functions such as laboratory and radiology order entry and test result viewing; visit notes, medication lists, and problem lists; clinical decision support; and the ability to transmit prescriptions to pharmacies electronically (e-prescribing).

In 2005, only 23 percent of practices had EHRs, compared with 35 percent in 2007. Practices with the greatest adoption of EHRs were those with seven or more physicians (71.4 percent). Little change was found over time, however, in the availability of 9 of the 10 key EHR functions. For example, only half the physicians reported in 2005 and 2007 that their systems allowed for laboratory or radiology order entry.

In addition, no more physicians reported being able to use clinical decision support tools in 2007 than in 2005. However, the ability of physicians to transmit prescriptions to pharmacies electronically increased significantly during the study period. In 2005, 45 percent of physicians surveyed were able to e-prescribe compared with 71 percent of physicians in 2007. Some of the EHR features are likely to be included in the anticipated "meaningful use criteria" being developed under the auspices of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, note Steven Simon, M.D., M.P.H., of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues. Their study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS15397).

See "Physicians' use of key functions in electronic health records from 2005 to 2007: A statewide survey," by Dr. Simon, M.D., M.P.H., Christine S. Soran, Rainu Kaushal, M.D., M.P.H., and others, in the July/August 2009 Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 16(4), pp. 465-470.

Current as of January 2010
Internet Citation: Use of electronic prescribing has expanded among Massachusetts physicians: Research Activities, January 2010, No. 353. January 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/jan10/0110RA19.html