EHRs: EHR system adoption to remain slow in coming years

November 14, 2008

While electronic health records systems are expected to become more widespread in the future, the pace of adoption will remain slow in the coming years, according to a survey from a top industry group.

While electronic health records systems are expected to become more widespread in the future, the pace of adoption will remain slow in the coming years, according to a survey from a top industry group.

Only 13 percent of the survey’s respondents who don’t already have an EHR system plan on buying one within the next two years, according to a survey from the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society. “Market growth is predicted to be slow,” the 18-page survey states.

Eighty percent of those who don’t already have EHR systems said they’d seek outside assistance to help with readiness, vendor contracting and/or implementation. Half said they’d purchase an EHR system that had been certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology, according to the survey.

“The survey results show some purchasing hesitation among physicians who don’t yet have an EHR,” says Mike Davis, executive vice president of HIMSS’ analytics subsidiary. “We found that cost continues to be a significant barrier to technology implementation, despite the benefits of improved patient care and fewer medical errors attributed to the EHR.”

Not surprisingly, the most-often cited barrier to EHR system adoption was cost, with “lack of interest” the second-most cited reason for not buying an EHR system. Adding to the potential confusion of EHR system shoppers, the field lacks a “dominant market leader” and features “many, many players in the market,” the survey says.

Overall, 30 percent of the survey’s 500 participants said they already have an EHR system. All survey participants work for ambulatory practices and were surveyed by telephone in June. Office managers were the primary contacts for the survey. More than half of the respondents had three or fewer full-time employees.

The survey’s prognosis for e-prescribing adoption isn’t much better. Among the respondents who don’t already have e-prescribing systems, 68 percent said they had no plans to install one in the future. Overall, just 21 percent said they already prescribe electronically.