October 13, 2006—A study completed by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH of Boston) and George Washington University (GWU of Washington, DC), based on a decade of physician surveys, concluded that one in four physicians use some form of electronic health records (EHRs), with fewer than one in 10 effectively using a comprehensive EHR system. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology funded the study.

Though no reliable data exists on the percentage of hospitals that have adopted EHRs, about 5% use computerized physician order entry systems, according to the study. The researchers also found that doctors who treat large numbers of Medicaid patients were half as likely as other physicians to have adopted EHRs, and that physicians in private or very small practices were much less likely than other physicians to have adopted the technology.

President Bush has called for most US residents to have EHRs by 2014; study co-author David Blumenthal, director of the Institute for Health Policy at MGH, says that at the current rate of adoption only half of US physicians would have functional EHRs by that deadline.

—Cat Vasko