Healthcare News & Insights

Huge jump in office-based EMR implementation in 2011

Use of electronic health records is increasing quickly – but some groups of doctors and hospitals are holding off on implementing EHR systems, mostly due to the price tag.

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 18% of office-based physicians had implemented electronic health records or electronic medical record systems in 2001, but that the number rose to 57% in 2011.

While the data shows a huge increase, it’s also important to look at the specifics, including statewide numbers. For example, the percentage of physicians using EMR/EHR in North Dakota was 84% in 2011, while in Louisiana it was just 40%.

Also, when looking at which physicians are signing up for the “meaningful use” rewards, it’s noted that small physician practices are wary of making the change. Of the physicians in hospitals, private offices, and clinics, an approximate 81,000 have jumped on board, while only 31,000 physicians working for small group practices have.

So why are so few small practice physicians staying away from EHRs? According to the report, they’re concerned about the upfront, operating and training costs. This isn’t the case for ambulatory practices, however. IDC Health Insights estimated that midsize to large ambulatory practices’ EHR adoption rates will jump to as much as 80% by 2016.

Besides government incentives being the driving force, several other factors are encouraging EHR implementation, including the potential quality improvements, growing capabilities, and the ability to make greater use of cloud computing and mobile devices being used in ambulatory practices.

Even if small practices are lagging behind, all numbers are still expected to rise dramatically within the next few years.

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