During the next four years, small practices will prove to be a very lucrative area of business. According to Hanover, EHR adoption rates among small practices are currently between 25% to 30%, and she expects them to jump to 80% by 2016.
While many small practices will be purchasing an EHR to qualify for Meaningful Use incentive payments (up to $44,000 from the Medicare program and up to $63,750 under the Medicaid program), the report urges these practices to plan for the longer term and consider how digital patient information will help them prepare for a modern, competitive healthcare environment.
That new healthcare environment will require that EHRs support new models of care, such as Accountable Care Organizations, health information exchanges, and improvements in the coordination of care through the use of mobile devices.
Given this new reality, IDC Health Insights urges small practices to buy EHRs that can be customized to support clinical workflows while maintaining productivity. It also recommends EHRs that possess strong decision support capabilities; interoperability; mobile connectivity; and clinical, financial and operational analytics. "Purchasing an EHR is an opportunity to set the stage for small practices to operate in a new healthcare reform environment that has an accountable care delivery model," Hanover said.
Small practices with limited budgets and few IT resources should focus on the price of the product, the financial stability of the vendor, and the licensing models being offered, advises Hanover. "There is very little margin for errors or workflow problems," she said. "It's important for them to really look for a product that meets their needs and a vendor who is going to support them going forward."
The report also listed barriers to EHR adoption. Not surprisingly, costs associated with licensing applications, implementation, and maintenance are the primary barriers. Small practices implementing EHRs face additional challenges, including workflow disruptions, the need to change staff behavior, and the negative impact EHR adoption can have on revenue.
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