News in Brief: Week of July 16-20

July 18, 2012 06:25 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Physicians Pleased With EHRs, According to Survey

Results of a survey on physician use of electronic health records (EHRs) conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) show that, in general, physicians are pleased with their EHRs and say their systems have improved patient care.

Key findings and supporting charts are included in a July NCHS data brief( According to that document, in 2011, 55 percent of U.S. physicians had adopted EHRs; nearly 75 percent of EHR users said their systems met federal meaningful use criteria; 85 percent of users reported being somewhat or very satisfied with the EHRs they were using; and 75 percent of respondents said their EHR improved care.

According to a July 17 HHS news release( announcing the data, almost half of responding physicians without an EHR said they planned to buy one within the next year or begin using one already purchased. That finding led researchers to predict that EHR use is likely to rise in the coming months.

RWJ Foundation Announces Nine Research Grant Awards

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced it awarded nine grants aimed at funding research on the barriers states face as they work to improve access to health care for their citizens.

According to a July 18 press release(, grant recipients will explore a number of health care reform issues, including those related to implementation of portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that rely on action by states working on expanding Medicaid coverage to residents.

Technical assistance to the grantees will be provided by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center(, a RWJF-funded research center. Grant-funded research will be conducted in organizations in various states, including Oregon, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maine and Michigan.

HHS To Hold Forums on Health Insurance Exchanges

HHS plans to hold a series of forums( in various U.S. cities next month to give states and stakeholders a chance to learn more about the state-based health insurance exchanges that are called for in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The first forum will take place in Washington on Aug. 14, followed by forums in Atlanta, Aug. 15; Chicago, Aug. 21; and Denver, Aug. 22. These revised dates represent a change in the dates previously issued by HHS. Each forum will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Affordable Care Act calls for states to establish two health insurance exchanges: one for individuals who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid and another for eligible small firms to help them provide group plans for their employees. HHS leaders conducting the forums will explain the various steps in creating and sustaining the exchanges. The forums also will give state representatives and other stakeholders an opportunity to ask questions about the exchanges.