Electronic health record adoption has continued to climb over the past few years despite the fact that meaningful use requirements have caused many health care professionals participating in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs to run into problems receiving their incentives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
According to a new report from Kalorama Information called "EMR 2015: The Market for Electronic Medical Records," providers are continuing to jump on the EHR bandwagon in part because they want to partake in the EHR Incentive Programs. Thanks to the increasing number of health professionals interested in using their EHR systems to adhere to meaningful use standards, the EHR market is currently thriving.
The era of electronic data access
The report noted that the EHR market climbed to almost $25 billion in 2014 – the highest it has ever reached. Kalorama refers to this point in time as the era of electronic data access for the health care industry, as paper documentation is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
EHR system upgrades caused the market to grow by 10 percent between 2012 and 2014. However, the market is far from done growing, as Kalorama estimates that within the next four years, the market will reach $35.2 billion.
There are many factors that have contributed to the increased adoption of EHR systems across the nation. The report mentions a few, including the financial benefits guaranteed by the CMS for participants of the EHR Incentive Programs, high-quality systems from EHR vendors and the desire to avoid payment penalties from the CMS. Since the incentive programs began, the federal government has distributed over $28 billion to physicians who have successfully met the meaningful use standards. Another enticing factor is the enhanced productivity and efficiency that EHRs offer practices.
"There's still a healthy and competitive market for EMR," Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information, said in a public statement. "Expect growth this year and next at seven to eight percent and stable growth until 2019. Eventually, there will be market saturation but this is a bit of a way off, especially in emerging markets."
Meaningful use drives EHR adoption
EHR implementation is expected to steadily rise over the years as more health professionals attest to stage 2 and 3 meaningful use standards to avoid payment penalties and receive financial incentives. Physicians are also expected to continue investing in more certified EHR technology and upgrading their EHRs, as updated systems cut providers' payment reductions that are often implemented after failing to adhere to the meaningful use requirements.
The CMS recently announced that as of 2014, 80 percent of physicians throughout the U.S. have taken advantage of EHR technology, which is a large increase from the 57 percent who were using EHRs in 2011. However, Kalorama's report noted that the number of providers implementing EHRs depends on which part of the U.S. they live in. The age of the physicians also determines how likely they are to invest in an EHR, as younger providers have adopted more EHR systems compared to older physicians.
Kalorama also reported on the EHR market's current issues, including regulatory trends and international market sizing. The current status of the meaningful use standards, a general summary of current EHR prices and a review of the incentives provided by the EHR Incentive Programs were mentioned in the report as well.
Although the health care IT industry is constantly changing and undergoing developments that accelerate its growth, the popularity of EHR systems has assured physicians that EHR adoption will continue to rise over the coming years, especially with the approaching ICD-10 implementation date on the horizon, which will require providers to have updated, high-quality systems.