Survey evaluates hospitals’ progress in scanning paper records

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A new survey asking hospitals about their implementation of electronic medical record (EMR) systems has found that many healthcare providers cite meaningful use incentives as the leading factor in their adoption of the health informatics tool.

The poll, which was conducted by information management services firm Iron Mountain, asked 200 healthcare professionals about their progress and expectations as they scan paper patient records and transition to EMR-focused systems.

Approximately 70 percent of survey respondents said that they expect to claim federal subsidies as a result of their meeting stage-one meaningful use requirements, which were laid out one year ago by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. These financial incentives are considered to be a major motivation for the transition to EMR systems, as this shift can be costly without some kind of monetary support.

Despite the widespread change to EMRs, 78 percent of hospitals will continue to use paper records for as long as five more years.

“The Meaningful Use guidelines set the clock ticking for hospitals to claim their share of the billions set aside for successful EMR transition,” said Ken Rubin, senior vice president and general manager for healthcare at Iron Mountain. “Reaching those incentives involves changing the way paper records are used and accessed by hospitals, a process that leaves most hospitals in a prolonged period of using ‘hybrid’ records – both paper and electronic. Accelerating through this hybrid period by effectively converting paper records is essential to greater utilization of an EMR to drive down costs and improve patient care.”

The survey also found that just 49 percent of healthcare providers have successfully scanned all necessary paper records and stayed within their budget while doing so; an additional 23 percent have stayed within their budget but have not yet completed the scanning process.