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Report: Electronic Medical Records Uptake 'Encouraging' But Digital Divide Remains

This article is more than 11 years old.

Even though the majority of doctor's offices across the nation have adopted electronic medical records for patients, a clear divide remains between large urban teaching hospitals and their smaller, rural counterparts, according to a new Robert Wood Johnson report.

The report, released today, found that adoption of electronic health records reached 57% last year, a 17% jump from 2002.

Still, researchers note that while the increases in adoption are "encouraging" there are signs of trouble:

The gap in EHR adoption rates based on hospital size, teaching status, and location has become larger, indicating that hospitals with certain characteristics continue to adopt HIT at a faster rate than others. Adoption among large hospitals, for example, increased by 17.3 percentage points, as compared to 10.1 percentage points among smaller hospitals, widening the gap in adoption from 15.0 percentage points in 2010 to 22.8 percentage points in 2011. Similar differences were found based on teaching status and location.

But, as one of our guest bloggers recently noted, the digital divide doesn't end with the the urban/rural, academic/non- academic split. There is also the great human/pet divide. Professional patient advocate Ken Farbstein writes here about his dog Jackson's handy EMR printout, something he, as a human patient, still does not have access to.

The Robert Wood Johnson report also offers a state-by-state comparison on the top EMR adopters:

Minnesota (60.9%), Wisconsin (59.9%), and North Dakota (57.9%) had the highest rates of adoption, while Louisiana (15.9%), New Jersey (16.3%), and South Carolina (19.5%) are at the low end of the scale.

Massachusetts was in the higher-end range at 43.6%.

This program aired on April 25, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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