The government's goal to provide every citizen with an electronic medical record by 2014 is not likely to be met, according to Dr. Kip Webb, who leads Accenture's clinical transformation practice.
In an interview with InformationWeek, Webb noted that based on a recent survey, a substantial number of physician practices with 10 or fewer employees have said they will not embark on a program to adopt electronic medical records.
Asked if he felt the government's EMR goals were achievable, he replied, "I don't."
Today, only six percent of U.S. office-based physicians use a fully functioning EMR system, according to the U.S. Centers For Disease Control.
"In 2005 President George W. Bush set a goal of universal electronic medical records within 10 years (by 2015). That was like President Kennedy's goal of sending man to the moon in 10 years. In many ways putting a man on the moon was easier than getting every patient an electronic medical record, which shouldn't be the case, but it is," Webb said.
In a recent survey, Accenture interviewed 1,000 U.S. physicians that have fewer than 10 doctors in their practice.
The survey's results showed that:
The survey also noted that the main reasons for EMR adoption by physicians during the next two years are the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's (ARRA) incentives and requirements.
Additionally, three-quarters of physicians surveyed are attracted to the idea of sharing EMR systems with a hospital or health network if the systems are at least partly subsidized by the hospital.
For those hesitant to digitize medical records, however, the main barrier for adoption of an EMR system is cost, although physicians tend to be unclear about the actual costs and resources required to purchase and implement EMR systems.
While the survey indicates that adoption rates for EMR systems is projected to grow, Webb said there are many reasons why a substantial portion of the small group practices have no plans to implement EMR, despite ARRA incentives.
"Those people typically are older physicians and tend to be in smaller groups with one- or two-physician offices," Webb said.
Physicians in this group have concluded that EMR is either it's too expensive to implement, or they don't want to take on the burden of changing the way their office functions, or they've decided that they'll stop practicing medicine over the next few years, according to Webb.
U.S. federal legislation includes incentives for physicians who implement and use EMRs by 2014 and penalties for those who do not adopt EMRs by 2015.