368 pediatricians out of 646 responded to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey . The physicians were nonresident pediatricians belonging to the American Academy of Pediatrics in either offices or clinics. In 2009, only 3 percent of survey respondents had implemented an EMR or EHR tailored to the pediatric specialty. 54 percent reported to use a general EMR and this number continues to rise because of the Meaningful Use reimbursement incentives.
Pediatricians appear to be one to two years behind the national average in implementing fully functional EMRs, says the survey report’s author. The biggest barrier to implementing a pediatric EMR is the cost, reported the responding pediatricians. Along with cost, finding a software solution that meets their practice’s specific needs was the other reason. Surprisingly, Meaningful Use isn’t a big motivator for upgrading to specialty software; growth charts are the only thing close enough to meeting actual incentive criteria. However, using a general internal medicine EMR lacks commonly used pediatric templates such growth charts, immunization records and weight-based drug dose prescribing, leaving the pediatrician to complete them with paper charts or create a new template from scratch.
The survey also revealed that certain factors contribute to who implements and who doesn’t. Single and two-physician practices were 5.1 times less likely to implement a basic EMR than a larger multispecialty group practice or hospital. General pediatric clinics were more likely to have an EMR than specialty pediatric clinics. And curiously, the pediatrician’s gender shown to play a role in implementation as well - males were twice as likely to have an EMR software solution in their clinic than females.