Incentives shown to drive health IT adoption

A recent study looked at why Massachusetts has the highest adoption rate in the nation.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted April 8, 2009

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What's working to bolster electronic health record adoption in Massachusetts could prove successful for the rest of the country, according to a recently released report.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts commissioned two studies by the Falls Church, Va.-based technology services company CSC, which examined the adoption rates of health IT in hospitals and physician practices. It found adoption rates in Massachusetts, where the Blues provided considerable incentive money, to be much higher than the national average.

The use of advanced systems in Massachusetts is also much higher than in the rest of the country. For example, 18% of hospitals participating in the survey used computerized physician order entry. That rate is almost double the national average.

The study said the incentives offered through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts played a big role in adoption. And while study authors expect the federal incentives included in the stimulus package will boost nationwide adoption of health IT, private insurers will continue to play a big role.

"I think more insurers will step up to the plate," said Erica Drazen, ScD, managing director of emerging practices at CSC, and one of the study's authors. Technology experts long have held the view that insurers could drive technology adoption by providing systems, because they have the money and the incentive to do so.

Massachusetts is being looked at as a national example with nearly all its hospitals and 36% of its physician practices using at least a baseline EHR system.

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