Advances in science and technology have lead to improvements in healthcare, but few of these advances have the potential to improve healthcare efficiency and lower costs more dramatically than electronic health records (EHR).
Because of these advances and growth in healthcare overall, there is a great deal of competition in the market, and this is good news for doctors, hospitals and patients. Competition has driven EHR vendors to improve efficiency and ease of use for healthcare providers across the country.
EHR harness the benefits of information technology for practical use in physician offices, hospitals and outpatient facilities. As a result, workflow processes like sharing patient histories and predicting treatment outcomes become much easier.
In addition to the ease and convenience of using EHR, recent actions by the federal government and trends in medical recordkeeping and data entry have made it inevitable that EHR adoption will increase in the years ahead.
Government incentives will play a key role in increasing the number of healthcare providers who adopt EHR software in the near future. In an article reprinted recently from MoneyWatch, CBS News reported that without the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, only 65 percent of doctors and 45 percent of hospitals would have adopted EHR systems by the year 2019.
That legislation makes it likely that these numbers will be closer to 90 percent and 70 percent, respectively. Forecasts from the Congressional Budget Office on EHR adoption, as reported by CBS, appear to be on track. Information Week indicated in November 2011 that 80 percent of all healthcare providers will be using EHR by the year 2016.
The most important incentives driving widespread EHR adoption seem to be those linked to Medicare and Medicaid. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Medicare EHR Incentive Program allows Medicare providers to receive up to $44,000 over the course of five years when they adopt a qualified EHR. Medicaid providers can receive up to $63,750 for using EHR in a meaningful way. Medicare providers will see their reimbursement rates lowered after 2015 if they don’t use approved EHR systems.
Due to these figures, financial prospects for the EHR market are very bright. The annual rate of growth is estimated at 12 percent through 2016 according to iHealthBeat, and the size of the market will be roughly $8.3 billion.