November 10, 2006
Physicians in smaller practices do not adopt health IT at the same rate as physicians in larger practices, according to a Center for Studying Health System Change study released on Thursday, Government Health IT reports. More than half of U.S. physicians work in offices with nine or fewer physicians.
The study compared the availability of clinical IT systems in physician practices in 2004 through 2005 with a comparable survey from 2000 through 2001 and found that the availability of the systems increased, but the gap between the number of small and large practices adopting IT systems either remained constant or increased.
The survey also found that:
- Access to systems with online treatment guidelines increased to 65% from 53%;
- Access to electronic prescribing systems increased to 22% from 11%;
- Exchange of clinical data increased to 50% from 41%;
- Access to notes on patient conditions increased to 50% from 37%; and
- Physicians who generate reminders about necessary patient immunizations increased to 29% from 24%.
But 44% more of the physicians in large practices could exchange clinical data than the physicians in one- or two-physician practices, the report found.
The study also could encourage the federal government to provide subsidies or tax breaks for physicians in small practices, according to Government Health IT. The study does not reveal whether physicians were using systems available to them, according to the authors (Ferris, Government Health IT, 11/9).