In early 2012, few physicians met meaningful use criteria, and using electronic health records (EHRs) for patient panel management was difficult, according to research published in the June 5 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Catherine M. DesRoches, Dr.P.H., from Mathematica Policy Research in Cambridge, Mass., and colleagues conducted a national mailed survey of practicing primary care and office-based specialist physicians (late 2011 to early 2012) to assess EHR use.

The researchers found that, of the respondents (60 percent), 43.5 percent reported having a basic EHR, with 9.8 percent meeting meaningful use criteria. Managing patient populations with computerized systems was not widespread, with less than one-half of respondents reporting having a system for any of the patient population management tasks included in the survey. Ease of use of these systems was varied.

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A system rating of “easy” was significantly more likely by physicians with an EHR that met meaningful use criteria compared to ratings by physicians with an EHR not meeting the standard.

“Results support the growing evidence that using the basic data input capabilities of an EHR does not translate into the greater opportunity that these technologies promise,” the authors write.