Majority of skilled nursing providers used EHRs in 2016, report shows

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The federal data found 64% of skilled nursing facilities used EHR.
The federal data found 64% of skilled nursing facilities used EHR.

More than half of skilled nursing facilities used electronic health record technology last year, according to new federal data.

A first-of-its-kind data brief released Thursday by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology found that 64% of skilled nursing providers used an EHR in 2016. Non-profit providers edged out for-profit facilities with a 70% adoption rate, compared to 62%.

Small facilities, defined as those with less than 50 beds, as well as rural providers, also fared slightly better at EHR adoption than their larger or urban counterparts, the brief found.

The report found 18% of providers used both an EHR and a health information organization, and that facilities that used both could send and receive patient information at higher rates than providers who only used an EHR.

Nearly one third of providers electronically exchanged health information with providers outside of their organization last year, according to the brief.

Despite the promising start, EHR adoption and engagement rates for the skilled nursing sector still lag behind acute care providers, Seth Pazinski, the director of the ONC's Office of Planning, Evaluation and Analysis said in a blog post. Recent data shows EHR adoption and interoperability in hospitals and hospital-owned outpatient practices to be nearly universal.

That gap may close with the introduction of federal efforts to advance EHR programs in post-acute care, such as the IMPACT Act, Pazinski noted.

“The path forward requires leveraging the lessons learned to close disparities in health IT adoption and use between skilled nursing providers and providers in acute-care settings,” Pazinski wrote. “Eliminating these gaps will be critical to ensuring that all healthcare providers, including those in institutional and long-term and post-acute care settings, can leverage health IT to deliver coordinated care with data that follows the person across care settings.”