July 1, 2013
Much has changed in the world of health information technology since our inaugural report in 2006, Health Information Technology in the United States: The Information Base for Progress. At that time, there was a dearth of methodologically rigorous data on health information technology adoption, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology was relatively small with a limited budget and very few hospitals or physician offices had functional electronic health records. Over the last seven years, two major pieces of legislation have been passed, the Health Information Technology for Clinical and Economic Health provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Affordable Care Act, which have provided unprecedented levels of financial support for health information technology adoption and implementation, primarily in the form of financial incentives for providers, and emphasized the importance of this technology in delivery system reform. We have seen the rate of electronic health record adoption among physicians and hospitals begin to increase more rapidly and the focus has begun to shift from simply turning on the technology to using it in a way that improves the quality and efficiency of care. In this report we continue to track progress toward the goal of universal adoption of electronic health records. We track the progress of hospitals and physicians, both overall and among those providers serving vulnerable populations; examine the state of health information exchange and mirroring emphasis at the federal level of implementing and using these technologies in a way that improves patient care, and; we examine the use of these tools for population management and patient education.