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Survey: 3 in 10 SUD Treatment Centers Using Only Electronic Records

July 22, 2020

As of 2017, just 3 in 10 substance use disorder treatment centers were exclusively using electronic methods to store and maintain patient health records, according to statistics from the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services. The data was published in a brief by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology earlier this month.

Of the 11,573 participants who responded to the question, 57% said they are using a combination of electronic and paper records, and 13% said they are still paper-only.

Among other findings in the ONC data brief:

  • 37% of treatment centers affiliated with hospitals are electronic-only with their patient records vs. 28% of those that are not hospital affiliated
  • 72% of centers operated by the federal government are electronic-only, far outpacing private not-for-profits (31%), private for-profits (23%), state-run (31%), local (32%) and tribal (22%) facilities
  • There was no statistically significant difference in use of electronic records between inpatient, outpatient and residential treatment centers
  • Just 5% of substance use disorder treatment facilities that have opioid treatment programs use only paper records vs. 14% of treatment facilities that do not have opioid-specific programs

The ONC data brief notes that SAMHSA’s recordkeeping requirements for opioid treatment programs and the recordkeeping systems’ compliance with federal and state reporting requirements “may be associated with higher reported use of electronic methods to store and maintain health information.”

“These results highlight the important role that federal programs and initiatives might have played in enabling substance abuse treatment centers with the capability to store and exchange treatment records,” Wesley Barker, MS, and Christian Johnson, MPH, the brief’s authors, wrote.

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