December 15, 2011
Healthcentric Advisors Publishes Policy Article Detailing Rhode Island’s Pioneering Efforts to Assess HIT Adoption
First State to Publicly Report HIT Adoption for Every Licensed Physician
Providence, RI (Dec. 15, 2011) – This week’s edition of Medical Care Research and Review publishes an article highlighting the fact that Rhode Island is the first and only state in the nation to publish physician-level data health information technology (HIT) adoption. The Rhode Island Department of Health releases these data annually for every licensed physician providing direct patient care.
“Rhode Island’s efforts are innovative,” says Rosa Baier, MPH, Senior Scientist at Healthcentric Advisors and program director of the Department of Health’s healthcare quality reporting program. “Because we are the first state to systematically collect these data for all physicians, we have an opportunity to spread our successes and lessons learned to others undertaking similar efforts.”
Healthcentric Advisors has led the healthcare quality reporting program since its inception 1998. Their role includes providing methodological and analytic expertise, convening stakeholders, developing consensus and releasing recurring reports, such as the annual Physician HIT analyses.
The Department of Health began incorporating physician HIT adoption into the public reporting program in 2008 because of the potential for HIT to improve patient care.
“HIT can help us improve quality,” according to Rebekah Gardner, MD, Senior Medical Scientist at Healthcentric Advisors and a practicing physician at Rhode Island Hospital. “For example, technology can help us ensure our patients receive recommended care, coordinate with other healthcare providers and prevent mistakes, like medication errors.”
State and federal incentive payments designed to accelerate HIT adoption are making it increasingly important to measure and track longitudinal trends, including physicians’ use of electronic medical records (EMRs) and electronic prescribing (e-prescribing). The Rhode Island physician HIT survey allows the Department of Health to calculate physicians’ performance on five measures related to the presence and use of EMRs and e-prescribing. The goal is to evaluate longitudinal trends, encourage benchmarking and provide data to help tailor local EMR adoption strategies to specific physician groups.
The Medical Care Research and Review article describes the process that the Department of Health and Healthcentric Advisors undertook to incorporate physician HIT adoption into the legislatively-mandated public reporting program. This included a public-private partnership, with physicians, payors and other stakeholders helping to vet the draft survey instrument and measures.
The article also includes data from the survey’s 2009 baseline, when 1,893 physicians completed the survey. More than 40% of physicians who responded self-reported e-prescribing. Nearly two-thirds (67.6%) reported having EMRs, although the estimate dropped to 12.5% for a measure with a strict definition of what constitutes an EMR. This range in estimates highlights the difficulty in defining EMRs, a challenge which the survey’s co-authors addressed by incorporating stakeholder consensus.
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