EHR "deinstallation" trend hits Phoenix

July 30, 2009

Though the Phoenix area has seen a high adoption rate for electronic health records, it also is the first region to experience a "deinstallation" trend, a recent report says.

Though the Phoenix area has seen a high adoption rate for electronic health records, it also is the first region to experience a “deinstallation” trend, according to a HealthLeaders-InterStudy report.

The trend to cancel EHR contracts, especially prevalent among smaller physician groups, is a result of training, functionality or affordability issues, and highlights the need for an affordable solution, according to the Phoenix Market Overview report.

The rapid adoption of EHR technology in Arizona stems from a 2005 executive order by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano, requiring that all healthcare providers install an EHR by 2010. The top hospital systems in the area, Banner Health and Catholic Healthcare West, along with several others, have installed EHRs, but are struggling with the same financial constraints as the small physician groups. EHRs require a significant financial investment in addition to expensive upgrades, according to the report. 

Long-term benefits of the technology include reduced transcription costs, lower chart and file storage expenses and the potential for reduced premiums on malpractice insurance, but in areas like Miami, where the recession is threatening the profitability of hospitals, EHR installation has been slow due to lack of funding for such projects.

Chris Clancy, a market analyst with HealthLeaders-InterStudy, says Phoenix may be the first area to experience the deinstallation trend due to its aggressive adoption of the technology, but will likely not be the last. In addition, physician shortages in Phoenix make it difficult for doctors and staff to carve out time for EHR training, Clancy says.