In a recently released Data Brief, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) described trends in adoption of Basic EHR and certified EHR in non-federal acute care hospitals from 2008 to 2014.  “Basic EHR represents a minimum use of core functionality determined to be essential to an EHR system.”  “A certified EHR is EHR technology that meets the technological capability, functionality, and security requirements adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services.”  Data cited in the brief are from the American Hospital Association (AHA) Information Technology (IT) Supplement to the AHA Annual Survey.

The Data Brief identifies and discusses four trends.

First, adoption of EHR systems by non-federal acute care hospitals has steadily increased since the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009.  In 2014, approximately 76% of hospitals had adopted at least a Basic EHR system, which represents a 27% increase from 2013 and an eight-fold increase since 2008.

Second, since the passage of the HITECH Act, EHR adoption rates have increased in every state.  In 2008, hospital adoption of at least a Basic HER systems was above 20% in only two states.  In 2014, state rates of hospital adoption of at least a Basic EHR system ranged from 50% to 100%.

Third, hospital adoption of technology with advanced functionality increased significantly.  “Fewer hospitals are using Basic EHRs without Clinician Notes” and “[h]ospital adoption of Comprehensive EHR systems has increased eleven-fold since 2009.”

Fourth, a vast majority of acute care hospitals (97%) possessed a certified EHR technology in 2014, increasing by 35% since 2011.  ONC explains that “the increase in the rate of adoption for certified EHR technology shed a positive light on hospitals’ progress towards the interoperable exchange of health information.”

It seems clear that HITECH has had the intended effect of making EHR systems much more prevalent in the U.S. healthcare system.