The electronic medical record sector grew 13.6%, and will approach 20% over the next two years in advance of meaningful use requirements, found Kalorama Information study.
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Kalorama's report echoes that of another survey published in February by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), which interviewed 326 IT executives representing nearly 700 hospitals. The survey found that 68% of respondents said that they were going to make additional IT-related investments to position their organization to qualify for incentive payments.
The Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive programs were established by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Under HITECH, Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments will be available to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) when they adopt certified EMR/EHR technology and successfully demonstrate "meaningful use" of the technology in ways that improve quality, safety, and effectiveness of patient-centered care.
Kalorama's projections assume that EMR usage will continue to increase, as hospital EMR adoption will encourage physician adoption, current EMR stage 3 hospitals will purchase more advanced systems, and current EMR owners will upgrade.
EMR IT spending will also be spurred by the threat of penalties in 2015, in the form of reduced payments from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for those that do not engage in meaningful use of EMRs, will force doctors and hospitals to upgrade their systems.
"The stick is stronger than the carrot when it comes to the ARRA incentive-penalty equation," said Carlson. "We continue to believe that and we think it's the industry's consensus as well. While the policy already picked up those oriented towards technology, the penalties will force conversion and upgrading in the future. And those decisions will happen in the next two years, before the penalties kick in."