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7 Trends EHR Vendors Must Address to Survive in 2018

The Trump Administration, ransomware attacks, and IT staff shortages are among seven trends that will disrupt the EHR marketplace over the next year.

EHR Vendors

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- A new market report addresses areas where EHR vendors will need to improve their systems in order to stay competitive through 2018.

According to Kalorama Information, the $28­-billion EHR market dominated by a score large vendors and hundreds of smaller competitors is set for a change as a result of emerging challenges voiced by healthcare professionals such as health IT-related administrative burden and negative perceptions of specific EHR vendors and products.

"Small trends that in the past were noted but not addressed, like usability and interoperability, the removal of incentives and lack of market share leadership have bubbled up we believe, to where they are no longer side issues," said Bruce Carlson, Publisher of Kalorama Information. "A few policy, industry and medical practice changes will change how the revenue grows or who earns it, and what the EMR market looks like in 2018."

The following are seven factors likely to affect EHR use and development in the coming years:

1. Physician dissatisfaction and burnout

Physician dissatisfaction with EHR systems is not a new phenomenon. High rates of dissatisfaction are common among physicians working with EHRs due to administrative burden. Physicians often feel EHR systems do not accommodate clinical practices sufficiently and frequently reduce the amount of time physicians are able to devote to the patient-provider relationship.

Focusing so much attention on data entry irritates physicians that value face-to-face interactions with their patients. EHR solutions that streamline administrative processes to free up time in a physician’s workday could greatly reduce dissatisfaction.

2. New Trump Administration policy goals

Newly-appointed HHS Secretary Tom Price is disappointed with meaningful use requirements and interested in readjusting federal reporting requirements to impose less of an administrative burden on providers. In its report, Kalorama examines potential policy changes offering a departure from these stringent requirements and what these changes might mean for EHR vendors.

3. Hospitals EHR replacement

According to research, hospitals frequently upgrade and switch vendors depending on performance to find the right fit for their clinical workflows. This approach to finding the right EHR solution for each specific practice fosters adaptable, competitive technology and keeps vendors on their toes.

4. Ransomware attacks and health data breaches

With ransomware attacks and data breaches becoming more and more common, hospitals are likely to become increasingly wary of relying entirely on EHR and health IT systems to run their institutions. EHR systems may increase efficiency and allow for faster, better-informed patient care delivery, but the risk of ransomware has cast a dark shadow over EHR systems in the eyes of many. Increasing security measures and ensuring health data privacy will be imperative for EHR vendors moving forward.

5. Dashboarding, blockchain, and other new infrastructure advancements

New health IT designs will allow providers new ways to ensure a more efficient approach to daily clinical tasks and tighter data security. Dashboarding gives healthcare providers an interactive view of real-time data to inform patient care equipped with valuable insights. Additionally, blockchain is becoming increasingly common as a way to improve the standardization and security of health data. EHR designs, experts contend, will need to incorporate these and other developing innovations into their systems to keep up with a rapidly changing industry.   

6. IT staff shortages

Having IT experts on staff in hospitals is becoming a necessity as technology becomes increasingly integral to daily processes. Healthcare organizations historically invest less in IT staff than other companies in similarly technology-dependent industries, such as finance. Without qualified IT staff, healthcare organizations could be unable to reap the full benefits of their EHR systems or find themselves faced with technology issues they are unprepared to handle. However, EHR vendors can use the lack of IT staff as an opportunity to provide outside IT services to hospitals and healthcare organizations utilizing their EHR solutions.

7. Room to grow

EHR giants such Cerner and Epic may dominate the market, but research shows no single company comprises even 20% of the EHR industry. Because no single vendor monopolizes the entire market, smaller vendors, local sales, and web-based offerings still have a chance of getting a reasonable foothold in the industry. 

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