EHR financial incentives are working to speed adoption

December 17, 2014

Fifty-one percent of physicians cite financial incentives or penalties as a possible driver for them to make adopt EHRs.

Financial incentives and penalties have proven successful in motivating physicians to adopt electronic health records (EHR).

A report from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology commissioned to investigate the efficacy of EHR incentive programs has revealed that EHR adoption has increased significantly since financial incentives began to be offered.

MORE COVERAGE: Satisfaction with EHR systems grows among physicians

Eight out of 10 physicians are now using an EHR or plan to adopt one, according to the report. And only one out of 10 physicians in the study say they don’t plan to adopt an EHR, with 41% of those physicians citing retirement as their reason.

Solo physicians were the most likely to say they were uncertain or never plan to adopt an EHR system. Among all specialties, surgical specialists had the highest rate (9%) of physicians who had no plans to adopt an EHR.

Physicians who adopted their EHR systems between 2010 and 2013 say financial penalties or incentives played a large role in their decision to adopt. In fact, 62% of adopters between 2010 and 2013 say financial incentives or penalties swayed their decision, compared to only 23% of adopters prior to 2009.

Other incentives for adoption listed by physicians include board certification requirement, recommendations from trusted colleagues, and the ability to exchange data electronically with other physicians. Prior to the creation of financial incentives and penalties, physicians who implemented EHRs before 2009 reported that the ability to exchange health information electronically with other providers was their main motivator for adoption.

For physicians who have not yet adopted EHR systems, money is still king. Fifty-one percent cite financial incentives or penalties as a possible driver for them to make the change, and 46% would think of implementing an EHR system if technical assistance were provided. Another 44% of physicians say a board certification requirement would be the incentive they needed for adoption.

Of those physicians who have not yet launched an EHR system, one-third say they have or plan to apply for incentive funds. Another 28% say they have no plans to apply for incentive funds and 10% were not eligible.

Aside from retirement, those who don’t plan to implement an EHR system 67% say it’s because they lack the resources in time and staff, 57% say they can’t afford it, and 21% say there are no systems that fit their specialty.