New report shows EHR replacement has increased by 40 percent since 2010

New report shows EHR replacement has increased by 40 percent since 2010

Health professionals across the industry know that streamlining workflows and enhancing patient engagement can significantly improve care quality. However, it is difficult to establish a high level of care with paper-based procedures that increase the chances of medical errors and take valuable time away from doctors and nurses. As the health care industry continues to see this, more providers are switching to electronic health records.

Now that there are EHR vendors that offer features like mobile applications and interfaces designed to assist staff with adapting to the new ICD-10 codes, health professionals are also transitioning their old EHR systems to newer versions with more advanced tools. In fact, according to a recent report, EHR Software BuyerView 2015, by Software Advice, over the past few years, there has been a major increase in the number of physicians who are replacing their old health IT with new EHR technology. 

Survey shows EHR replacement continues to grow
According to the new report, the percentage of physicians investing in EHRs to replace their older systems between 2010 and 2015 has increased by 40 percent, jumping from 20 percent in 2010 to 60 percent in 2015. While factors like the meaningful use standards and ICD-10 codes have been a large reason for the switch to more advanced systems, physicians have also reported success with EHRs compared to paper methods and are looking for more advanced systems to improve workflows even more. 

"It's important to note that, in the six years we've been studying EHR buyers, 2015 marks the first time that the amount of clinicians looking to replace an existing EHR outnumbers the amount of clinicians looking to purchase an EHR for the first time," the authors of the Software Advice report noted.

The researchers explained that this is true because many physicians are hesitant to invest in EHR systems out of concern that EHRs will not work for their practices.

"That's why buyers – especially first-timers – should explore product reviews written by real EHR users, paying special attention to feedback about the vendor's customer support, to ensure their practice will be properly supported during the transition," the authors maintained.

There are a few features that providers who are replacing their EHR systems are looking for in their new EHRs. The report showed that three were reported most frequently. A total of 45 percent of providers are looking for enhanced billing applications, 27 percent want claim support and 23 percent need a system with patient scheduling tools. 

Health care industry shifts focus to finances following ICD-10
The report noted that so many providers need billing services because they want to bring these services back in-house. This reflects the sudden focus on the financial workflows after the ICD-10 implementation took place. 

"Indeed, the need for software with billing and coding applications that can help with ICD-10 preparation is specifically mentioned as a primary purchase-driver by several of the buyers in our sample," the report's authors stated. "And with good reason. There can be significant consequences to being underprepared."

Another seven features that providers reported seeking in order to ready their practices for value-based care and to improve access to patient data are patient tracking, regulatory compliance, customizable templates, e-prescribing, robust reporting, mobile integration and lab integration. Most of these tools were very similar in popularity among providers replacing their EHR systems. 

Many older versions of EHRs lack the interfaces that are easy and convenient to navigate, which is another reason why providers are searching for new EHRs. Specialty practices are turning to vendors that are able to provide them with systems that were designed with their specific workflows in mind. This is key to minimizing workflow disruptions and time-consuming training. 

As vendors continue to offer enhanced features and innovative tools, EHR replacement and the number of first-time EHR buyers are expected to continue growing.