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EHR Use Nearly Universal in Hospital Outpatient Practices

New research shows increasing ambulatory EHR use with near universal EHR adoption at hospital-owned practices.


Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- EHR adoption is nearly universal in hospital-owned outpatient practices as of 2017, according to the latest research from HIMSS Analytics.

The 9th Annual Outpatient PM and EHR Study pulled data from myriad sources, including a web-based survey aggregating data from a total of 436 respondents including physicians, practice managers, administrators, CEOs, and health IT experts between June 23, 2017 and July 12, 2017.  Additionally, HIMSS collected information from its market intelligence platform on June 30, 2017 to gain insight into nearly 150,000 hospital-owned and independent practices.

Based the data, 92 percent of hospital-owned outpatient facilities are presently using a live and operational EHR system.

“Statistics from LOGIC and the 2017 Outpatient Study indicate strong growth in the implementation of outpatient EHRs over the years,” wrote researchers. “This growth coupled with high adoption rates suggest the hospital-owned outpatient market has neared universal adoption.”

While EHR adoption is on the rise at hospital-owned practices, EHR use rates at independent practices have fallen slightly to 70 percent.

“With some physicians on the verge of retirement and choosing not to invest in EHR technology, others who do not feel they need it, and the purchase of physician practices by either larger practices or hospitals/health systems, the opportunity for adoption in the free-standing market is somewhat limited,” stated researchers.

The research group also surveyed respondents regarding their future purchase intentions.

Most stated they intend to stick with their current vendor to avoid the hassle of replacing their EHR solutions completely, with only 10 percent expressing an interest in replacing their system.

Even less are purchasing a new EHR system for the first time: 6 percent of respondents are seeking to implement a brand new solution.

However, investments in EHR technology in some capacity is on the rise.

“Respondents with no investment plans dropped below 60 percent for the first time in four years,” noted researchers.

Despite EHR replacement being slightly on the rise in comparison to previous years and new EHR purchases starting to fall, researchers are hesitant to mark the start of a consistent trajectory.

“While this could indicate the beginning of a more robust replacement market than has been seen in previous years, it is likely too early to tell at this point in time if the upward trend will continue,” researchers noted.

Finally, researchers addressed practice preparedness for meaningful use (MU) reporting requirements.

In 2017, over 37 percent of respondents voiced complete confidence in their EHR system’s ability to meet meaningful use requirements — an improvement over opinions in both 2016 and 2015.

Overall, confidence levels in practice readiness to meet MU requirements seems to be steadily on the rise.

“Respondents indicated a higher level of confidence in their PM/EHR solution to meet MU criteria for the second straight year,” stated researchers.

While not all providers have complete confidence in their practice’s preparedness to meet federal requirements, over half have at least some confidence their technology is sufficient to fulfill the criteria.

Additionally, only 4 percent of providers expressed having no confidence that their EHR systems and PM solutions have the capabilities to meet meaningful use reporting requirements in comparison to over 10 percent in 2015.

Last week, CHIME submitted written testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on health supporting increased flexibility in MU criteria rather than the program’s outright elimination.

The executive organization emphasized the importance of building on the past successes of the program instead of imposing an entirely new set of requirements on providers. 



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