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Use of electronic medical records expands in the US, but some hospitals are trailing

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 12 July 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4516
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

US hospitals and physicians seem to be responding to federal financial incentives and accelerating their adoption of electronic health records, according to two new studies published online by the journal Health Affairs.

In 2009, Congress passed the Health Information and Technology Act, which authorized nearly $30bn (£10bn; €23bn) to promote the adoption of electronic health records.

The law created financial bonuses as well as penalties to induce doctors and hospitals to adopt systems that met specific criteria for “meaningful use,” which gradually become more demanding over a period of years.

These criteria require the systems to have capabilities that have been shown to improve the efficiency and quality of care, such as computerized order entry, electronic prescribing, and automatic reminders to help doctors follow clinical guidelines.

The first study—led by Catherine DesRoches, a senior scientist at Mathematica Policy Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts—looked at the adoption of …

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