Ambulatory Health Care Data

National Electronic Health Records Survey

The National Electronic Health Records Survey (NEHRS) is an annual survey of non-federally employed, office-based physicians practicing in the United States (excluding those in the specialties of anesthesiology, radiology, and pathology). NEHRS began in 2008 and was originally designed as an annual mail supplement to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS). Starting in 2010, funding permitted an increase in the sample size to allow measurement of electronic health record (EHR) adoption rates by all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Since 2012, NEHRS has been administered as a survey independent of NAMCS. The 2008-2014 NEHRS data collections used postal mail, and telephone. The 2015, 2017-2019 NEHRS data collections used web, postal mail, and telephone. The 2021 NEHRS used web and postal mail data collection.

NEHRS is conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The 2021 NEHRS will be the last fielding of this survey due to changes in ONC’s research priorities. Other National Health Care Surveys, including NAMCS, the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS), and the National Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Study (NPALS) will continue to collect data on EHR systems and other NEHRS topics in the future. 

Data from NEHRS can be used to produce state and national estimates of EHR adoption and capabilities, burden associated with EHRs, and progress physicians have made towards meeting the policy goals of the HITECH Act. In more recent years, survey questions have also asked about Promoting Interoperability programs, sponsored by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Using NEHRS data, NCHS publishes reports and summary web tables to describe the general frequencies of EHR adoption. Data from NEHRS have also been used by researchers in reports such as Health United States and Healthy People 2020 as well as research from the federal, public, and international communities.

Public use file documentation and files 2018, 2019 and 2021 NEHRS are now available for download here.

To access any restricted NEHRS data, investigators must first write a research proposal to the NCHS Research Data Center (RDC).  Instructions for preparing and submitting an RDC proposal are available here.

Page last reviewed: May 6, 2022