Survey shows cloud-based EHRs on the rise

Cloud-based EHR systems on the rise

Many high-quality electronic health record vendors give customers the option to invest in either a client-based or cloud-based system. While both types of software have their advantages, a recent survey has shown that cloud-based EHRs are on the rise

Cloud EHR system adoption increases
The rate of EHR implementation has picked up in practices and hospitals across the country. A survey conducted by Black Book Market Research looked at the experiences and preferences of 5,700 small and solo physician practices of all specialties in regard to their EHR systems. It found that almost 7 out of 10 of the practices surveyed had invested in a cloud-based EHR. The results were recorded over the course of four months.

Over the years, vendors have made significant improvements to their EHR systems, including updates that enhance usability and increase customization features. These improvements have caused EHR satisfaction among small practices to rise from 13 percent in 2012 to 83 percent in the second quarter of 2015. 

Small practices in urban settings have also increased their cloud-based EHR adoptions from 60 percent in 2013 to 82 percent in 2015. One feature that providers have started to look for in their EHR systems is a mobile platform to enhance workflows and productivity. 

"The focus of healthcare technology vendors needs to be on mobile, cloud, and data integration to successfully meet the future demands of the changing healthcare landscape," Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book, said in an announcement. "The bigger issues of interoperability and population health outcomes, quality of care reporting and ICD-10 have framed the third generation EHR vendor, and the majority – 69 percent – of small practices plan to increase their investment in the advancements made by their current cloud-based vendor."

Implementation concerns subside
The survey found that in addition to a vendor's reputation and proven success, 79 percent decided on which cloud EHR system to invest in based on the pricing.

More than half of the respondents felt that the implementation process was not challenging enough to prevent them from switching to a cloud-based system. In fact, in 2013, 82 percent of EHR users were concerned about implementation and deployment. This percentage has dropped to 62 percent, as providers are seeing that many vendors make the implementation process easier with support and resources.

Almost all of the respondents – 90 percent – have seen evidence that cloud EHR models have improved privacy and security features. While complete security for health IT is still something that the health care industry is working on, 92 percent of the small practices that rely on EHR systems from a cloud-based server feel that their vulnerability to data breaches and security incidents are far lower than it once was. 

"An increasing number [79 percent in 2015, up from 64 percent in 2014] of new conversions are using software-as-a-service type implementations, driving the growing number of physician practices to cloud-based products," Brown said in the announcement. "As risk sharing increases, so will the demand for meaningful, robust data sharing between providers and payers regardless of the model EHR employed," Brown said. If interoperability issues are not resolved, they will drive another round of cloud- and server-based EHR replacements, he added.

Interoperability is a feature that many of the providers believe is the most difficult hurdle to clear when using EHRs to enhance clinical and financial performance. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released the proposed stage 3 meaningful use standards earlier this year in an effort to support nationwide interoperability. However, many industry experts and health providers find the new rules unattainable and too complex.