Survey shows HIT adoption increases

March 30, 2010

CAMBRIDGE, MA –March 29, 2010 – Adoption of healthcare IT is on a steady incline in the small physician practice, reveals a survey by NaviNet, America’s largest real-time healthcare communications network. In early March 2010, NaviNet conducted a survey of IT and electronic medical record (EMR) adoption trends in small practices and compared results to a similar survey the company issued to small practices in August 2009. Survey results showed that the percentage of provider offices with plans to implement EMRs is growing. The two leading drivers for IT adoption are Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) mandates and administrative overhead reduction, with pending Federal incentives coming in a distant third.

Expedited EMR Adoption

In 2009, only nine percent of respondents from provider practices with 10 or fewer physicians reported that they planned to implement EMRs within the next six months, yet six months later EMR implementation among this segment is higher than expected––12 percent.

Additionally, 17 percent of respondents say their offices will implement a new EMR by end of 2011. Of those, 68 percent will do so within the next 12 months. If EMR adoption follows previous growth rates, the industry can expect an even higher percentage of practices implementing EMRs than predicted. 

Further, the percentage of respondents with no plans to implement an EMR has decreased significantly. In 2009, 31 percent reported they had no plans to implement EMR. In 2010, only 21 percent say they have no plans to implement.

Drivers of IT Adoption

The NaviNet survey indicates that nearly twice as many provider offices’ IT buying decisions are driven by concern about not being reimbursed versus the potential to earn incentives. 

In 2010, when respondents were asked what external factors were influencing their offices’ decisions about changes to technology, 53 percent said CMS mandates––a 14 percent spike over 2009. CMS mandates outline rules for claims submission and will be required for reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid.

Administrative concerns continue to be a pressing issue for providers, more so than clinical concerns or potential financial incentives. Nearly the same percentage of respondents in 2009 and 2010 cited the need to manage their practices’ administrative overhead more effectively as a driver behind IT adoption––44 percent in 2009, 45 percent in 2010. 

The survey results show that the opportunity to receive incentives from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) after meeting the CMS criteria for ‘Meaningful Use’ of technology is becoming more important; in just six months the percentage of respondents that said ARRA was driving technology adoption more than doubled––12 percent in 2009 to 27 percent in 2010.

Barriers to EMR Adoption Still Remain

In 2010, nearly 50 percent of respondents said that cost remains the biggest barrier to EMR adoption. Other barriers suggest that provider offices are unaware of the benefits of EMR adoption:

  • 46 percent – Physician is not ready to pursue adoption
  • 27 percent – Practice does not need an EMR
  • 26 percent – Practice does not see how they will achieve return on investment

Room for Growth on ‘Meaningful Use’ Awareness

Though ARRA is becoming an increasing driver for IT adoption, in 2010 most practices are unsure or unaware of ‘Meaningful Use’ reporting requirements and nearly half of practices say ARRA will not impact their technology buying decisions. 

  • Only about one quarter (26 percent) of respondents said that they plan on following CMS’ guidelines for ‘Meaningful Use’ to qualify for incentive payments provided by ARRA.
  • More than 60 percent (63 percent) said they were unaware or unsure of what the ‘Meaningful Use’ reporting requirements are.
  • Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) said that ‘Meaningful Use’ requirements will not impact their EMR buying decisions.

“The NaviNet survey results are encouraging as they suggest that small physician practices are getting more serious about HIT adoption. Furthermore, it is also encouraging to see Federal incentive programs having more of an impact on IT adoption,” said Brad Waugh, president and CEO of NaviNet. “However, it is clear that opportunities remain for education about how to meet Federal requirements. Providers would benefit from knowing that a wide variety of IT solutions, in addition to EMRs, will satisfy their office’s business requirements and also the clinical criteria for Meaningful Use.  Many physicians already have these solutions in their offices—so additional investment could be minimal or unnecessary.”

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