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Community Health Centers Show Little Bias in EHR Adoption



By Clinical Informatics News Staff

May 13, 2014 | In contrast to other types of care providers, which have disproportionately adopted electronic health records (EHRs) in areas serving white, middle class urban and suburban populations, federally-funded community health centers have taken advantage of the technology equitably across socio-economic divides. This according to a recent study undertaken by members of the Department of Health and Human Services, including lead author Michael Wittie, who has published a summary of the findings on the website of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

The study, published in the Journal of Healthcare Quality, reveals that 80% of community health centers had implemented an EHR system by 2011, a threefold increase over just five years earlier. Health centers were no more likely to adopt EHRs if they served rural vs. urban settings, larger vs. smaller minority populations, or greater numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients. The study further found that, while the overwhelming majority of these EHR systems could handle the most basic tasks like maintaining medication and allergy lists or recording vital signs, large majorities could also provide functionality in the course of care: 96% could warn providers of drug allergies and interactions, 90% could order prescriptions electronically, and 88% could alert providers to out-of-range test results.

Wittie credits federal funding for EHRs in community centers, provided through the HITECH act, for spurring rapid and equitable adoption.

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