Privacy Rules Discourage EMR Adoption

States with laws to protect patients’ confidentiality may be discouraging hospitals from adopting electronic medical record (EMR) systems by up to 30 percent and may hinder the federal government’s aim for interoperability, according to researchers at two universities.

The stimulus bill, enacted Feb. 17, allocates nearly $20 billion in funding for facilities and providers to adopt standardized EMR systems. Only 1.5 percent of hospitals have a comprehensive system while 8 percent have a basic system that includes provider notes, according to the March 25 New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Virginia recently concluded that state privacy regulations reduce aggregate EMR adoption by between 20 percent and 30 percent. States that got rid of some of their regulations experienced a 21 percent gain in hospital EMR adoption rates around the years the laws changed compared with just an 11 percent gain in states that kept them intact, said the study.

Hospitals report difficulties in exchanging information with systems in other states due to filters installed to comply with local statutes, co-author Catherine Tucker, PhD, MIT Sloan School of Management, said. Critics like Deborah Peel, MD, a chair of the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, disagree, maintaining that state privacy laws are based on the American Medical Association’s Code of Ethics. She argues that cost and system designs are impeding EMR adoption.

Read more on amednews.com.

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