Array of EHR options fuels doc adoption

March 26, 2014 in Medical Technology

Solo physicians and small practices are finally starting to show encouraging electronic health record adoption rates, according to a new report from SKA.

[See also: Don't let meaningful use dictate EMR choices, IDC tells small practices]

The study, “Physician Office Usage of Electronic Health Records Software,” finds that the rate of EHR implementation in small offices has jumped more than 10 percent over the past year.

“What has accelerated the adoption of electronic health records among smaller practices is the availability of more than 450 different solutions to fit their practice needs, size and budget,” said Jack Schember, senior director of marketing for SKA, in a press statement.

[See also: Small vendors have big plans]

SKA’s report, based on a survey of 270,036 medical sites, showed an overall EHR adoption rate of 61 percent, up from 50.3 percent from the prior year. The adoption rate for single-doctor offices grew 11.4 percentage points, from 42.3 percent to 53.7 percent, while the adoption rate for offices with 26 or more doctors increased just 1.6 percentage points, from 75.9 percent to 77.5 percent.

“The healthcare IT community responded well to the opportunity presented by the EHR adoption incentives offered through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by providing a variety of options to physicians with relatively easy implementation and training support,” said Schember.

Another factor, he added, was that docs are starting to realize they have “have a limited window of opportunity” to take advantage of federal meaningful use dollars.

Still, as IDC Health Insights research director Judy Hanover wrote in a 2012 report, while ARRA offers “an unprecedented opportunity for providers in small practices,” it shouldn’t be the deciding factor in their IT purchasing decisions.?

“If providers allow the constraints of meaningful use to dictate their technology choices and limit the goals for implementation,” Hanover wrote, “they may only see the short-term incentives and not the long-term strategic advantage that an EHR can bring to their practices and may fail to compete under healthcare reform.”

Unlike the hospital market, where a half-dozen or so big vendors dominate the market, the physician practice space has hundreds of companies competing to tailor their offerings.

According to SKA, physician practices are starting to take advantage of those myriad offerings.

Other EHR trends highlighted in the report:?

  • Adoption among integrated health systems had the highest rate of all site ownerships. The percentage jumped to 71.4 percent from 63.4 percent a year ago. Integrated health system adoptions were substantially higher than their non-health systems owned counterparts.
  • Adoption rises as the number of physicians practicing at each site rises. Offices with three to five practicing physicians had 69.6-percent adoption, while offices with 11 to 25 practicing physicians had 78.1-percent adoption.
  • Adoption rises as the number of exam rooms at each site rises. Offices with one exam room had 39.7-percent adoption, while offices with 11-plus exam rooms had 74.8-percent adoption.
  • Adoption rises as the average daily patient volume at each site rises. Offices with average daily patient volumes of one to 50 patients had 57.5-percent adoption, while offices with 101-plus patients had 76.3-percent adoption.
  • Physician specialties with the highest adoption rates are dialysis (80.6 percent), internal medicine/pediatrics (75.8%), nephrology (70.5 percent), and pathology (69.4 percent.
  • The top five states for EHR adoption are Utah (71.6 percent), South Dakota (71.2 percent), Wyoming (71.0 percent), Iowa (70.8 percent), and North Dakota (69.2 percent).

[See also: Small vendors should have bigger role]

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