Pediatricians are lagging behind in adopting electronic health record systems, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, MedPage Today reports.
For the study, researchers from the Seattle Children's Hospital reviewed 646 survey responses from nonresident pediatric clinicians practicing in office or clinical settings. The respondents all were members of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The study found that in 2009:
- 41% of surveyed pediatricians said they used an EHR system or planned to use one within the next 12 months;
- 25% said they used an EHR system that met criteria for "basic" functionality or planned to use such a system within the next 12 months; and
- 6% said they used an EHR system with full functionality or planned to use such a system within the next 12 months.
In comparison, about 6.9% of all office-based physicians used a fully functional EHR system in 2009, according to the study. The researchers wrote, "Based on National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey estimates of EHR use, our findings indicate that pediatricians are about one to two years behind the national average in terms of implementing fully functional EHR systems."
The study also found that only 3% of surveyed pediatricians said they used a fully functional EHR system equipped with specific pediatric features, such as immunization tracking and weight-based prescription dosing information.
Study Findings "Alarming," Commentary Says
In an accompanying commentary, S. Andrew Spooner -- chief medical information officer of Cincinnati Children's Hospital -- wrote that the low adoption for EHR systems with pediatric functionalities is "alarming."
He added that the meaningful use program is unlikely to spur greater adoption of pediatric EHR features because the program does not require health IT systems to have many of these functionalities. Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
Spooner wrote, "The programming logic that would support well-child-visit tracking or immunization prediction is not trivial; given the resources necessary on both the vendor and the customer side to meet meaningful use criteria, it is not likely that there will be widespread efforts to implement these sophisticated features" (Phend, MedPage Today, 11/20).