PCPs lead the pack in EHR adoption

May 3, 2012

Two recent studies show that EHR adopters share some key traits--including age--and that those who earned financial rewards also have something in common. See if you have what it takes.

It’s been about a year since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began offering incentives to providers who demonstrated “meaningful use” of electronic health records (EHRs), and now several new studies aimed at determining the incentives’ effectiveness have been released.

One study indicates that physicians aged more than 55 years and those in non-primary care or small practices have been the slowest to adopt EHRs but shows a 38% increase in adoption overall among office-based doctors. By 2011, more than half of all physicians had EHR systems-triple the number who had EHR systems in place a decade earlier. Primary care physicians (PCPs) led the way in EHR adoption during the study period, increasing their adoption rate by 8.6% more than non-PCPs over the previous 10 years.

A second study notes that although most physicians were eligible for financial incentives in 2011, few had EHR systems that met the meaningful use criteria necessary to secure any of the rewards.

Overall, 91% of doctors were eligible for Medicare or Medicaid incentives, and 51% reported they intended to apply for meaningful use incentives, yet only 11% had systems that met the criteria for receiving the incentives. Larger practices were more likely to meet incentive criteria, according to the study, as were physicians in practices not owned by doctors.

But the future could hold more opportunities, according to a new report from Kalorama Information, which found a 22% increase from 2010 to 2011 in the sales of EHR system to physicians. Doctor purchases, especially of systems sold through the Web, accounted for the fastest rate and heaviest volume sales growth in the EHR market, according to the study, well above the growth in system sales to hospital systems.

The study attributes the growth in part to increased physician use of EHRs, noting a nearly 57% increase in partial or full use of EHR systems by doctors from 2010 to 2011.

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