EHR Adoption to Hit 80 Percent in Health Care Market by 2016: IDC

"Meaningful-use" incentives, cloud computing and mobility are among the factors driving more than 80 percent market penetration of EHRs by 2016, according to a new IDC report.

Government financial incentives, cloud computing and mobility will encourage 80 percent of health care organizations to adopt electronic health records by 2016, according to a new report by IDC Health Insights.

Released May 30, "IDC MarketScape: U.S. Ambulatory EMR/EHR for Small Practices 2012 Vendor Assessment" gives providers guidance on which EHR vendors to choose.

MarketScape is an IDC assessment tool that scores a vendor's fitness to succeed in an individual market.

Analysis of government data, vendor revenue and its previous surveys led IDC to its EHR market predictions for 2016, Judy Hanover, research director at IDC Health Insights, told eWEEK. Market adoption was 25 percent in 2009.

Despite a forecast of strong growth in EHRs for the future, small medical practices currently have a low level of EHR adoption, said Hanover.

"We're still at a pretty low level of adoption in the small practice," she said.

Although the Obama administration's "meaningful-use" incentive program is guiding adoption of health records, small providers may only benefit in the short term if they just focus on satisfying these guidelines, according to Hanover.

"The timeline of meaningful use has an end€”through 2016 for small practices," said Hanover. "Really, I think they should view it as an investment in the future of their practice."

The government issued its proposal for Stage 2 of the meaningful use guidelines in February, and a final rule for Stage 2 is expected this summer.

Improved quality of care from using EHRs as well as increased use of smartphones and tablets in health care are driving adoption of health record applications, according to IDC.

Practices should also consider how an EHR platform may affect their efforts to coordinate care, either as part of an accountable care organization, in which groups of doctors receive incentives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services based on patient outcomes, or a patient-centered medical home, in which patients and doctors collaborate on care and track a patient (or a family) over time using tech tools.

The report evaluates 11 EMR/EHR products from nine U.S EHR vendors, which included ADP AdvancedMD, AllScripts Healthcare Solutions, Athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Greenway Medical Technologies, Lumeris (formerly ClearPractice), Meditech, OptumInsight and Practice Fusion.

Lumeris was included in the list because its Nimble application is Apple iOS-based, said Hanover.

Meanwhile, Optum stood out because of its collaboration with a health insurer, its parent company UnitedHealth, said Hanover.

In addition, EHR applications from Athenahealth and eClinicalWorks gained recognition for their pricing models, which are based on risk of technology implementation, she said.

The uptime and availability of software as a service (SaaS) EHR apps also appeal to small practices, said Hanover.

AllScripts and eClinicalWorks held the largest market share in EHRs for small practices, according to Hanover. Both companies offer combined EHR and practice-management platforms. For AllScripts, 4,000 practices and 25,000 physicians have adopted its applications, and 60,000 providers in 9,000 practices are using eClinicalWorks EHRs.

Although Cerner, GE Healthcare and NextGen Healthcare Information Systems also have a presence in the small-provider market, their focus is midsize to large practices, Hanover noted.