A data brief (PDF) released on December 5 by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) identifies two key reasons for the growth in use of electronic health records (EHRs): The need to share patient information with other providers and the appeal of financial incentives. The data, from the 2013 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, also highlight the high level of importance providers put on health information exchange.

According to ONC, the data show that since the enactment of HITECH in 2009, 62% of physicians who adopted health IT tools identified financial incentives and penalties as a major influence on their decision to adopt, versus 23% of those physicians who adopted before 2009.

Another key motivator in EHR adoption was the ability to easily share electronic information with other caregivers, the ONC said: “More than a third of physicians who adopted EHRs after HITECH was enacted cited this capability as a major influence in their decision to adopt.”

“We have seen a significant increase in the adoption and use of health IT systems among providers, and the new data shows the importance of incentives in building an interoperable health IT system,” said Karen DeSalvo, MD, national coordinator for health IT and acting assistant secretary of health. “National delivery system reform initiatives linked to certified technology, such as the separately billable chronic care management services, will help make the electronic use and sharing of health information a reality.”