It's no secret that the vast majority of office-based physicians don't have EMR technology. Estimates vary because of conflicting definitions about what constitutes an EMR, but it's safe to say that less than 20% have a fully-functioning system in their practices.
This is despite years of EMR vendors, consultants, and a few early adopter advocates pushing and prodding physicians to come on board. Those plugs are common at healthcare conferences, but the message and tone feels different at this year's HIMSS conference.
Perhaps that's because the federal government's carrot-and-stick incentives through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are finally convincing physicians to act.
And if the latest survey report of physicians proves correct, droves of small physician practices are going to try to install EMRs very soon. Accenture's Innovation Center for Health and Institute for Health & Public Service Value worked with Harris Interactive to survey 1,000 U.S. physicians from practices of fewer than 10 practitioners to measure their views of EMRs. Approximately 15% of respondents were users of EMRs and 85% were non-users.
Of non-EMR users, 58% say they intend to purchase an EMR system within the next two years. Of those physicians under the age of 55, 80% plan to make a purchase within two years.
Accenture is releasing the survey report today at the HIMSS conference in Atlanta, GA, and on its Web site, www.accenture.com. Here are a few other interesting findings from the report:
Poring over the findings of this latest report on EMR adoption, there are themes that are being echoed by HIMSS attendees. More physicians than originally expected are planning on adopting EMRs and they are less likely to have experience with the technology, but their expectations are higher than those of early adopters. They want IT vendors to make the install seamless, and they want highly functional systems:
It's too early to tell if these sky-high expectations are unreasonable, but if current EMR technology could really do all this, we shouldn't have needed the ARRA to motivate physicians into action.