For market watchers of health information technology, there were no surprises in a just-released survey report on IT usage in ambulatory-care practices.
The adoption curve for healthcare IT systems still appears to be inching upward, although for electronic health-record systems market growth is predicted to be slow, according to the report on a survey by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and its HIMSS Analytics subsidiary.
Among those who reported not having an EHR, just 13% indicated they had plans to purchase a system in the next 24 months, the report stated. Of those planning to purchase an EHR in that near-term, half indicated that they would purchase a system that was certified by the federally supported Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology.
The survey was conducted in June of 500 individuals working in ambulatory practices. The primary contacts for the survey were practice managers. The practices were grouped by size based on the number of full-time-equivalent employees, with small practices defined as having one to three FTEs and comprising 54% of the survey sample. Medium-size practices of four to 14 FTEs made up 37% of the sample and large practices with 15 or more FTEs rounded out the survey with 9% of the survey population.
According to the survey, 30% of respondents reported their practices have an EHR system, but the adoption rateas virtually all other IT surveys have indicatedis higher the larger the practice. According to the HIMSS survey, 47% of large practices reported having an EHR, compared with 34% for medium-size practices and 24% for small practices. The EHR results also skewed upward if the practice was part of a healthcare system (54% reported having an EHR) vs. those that are not (27% EHR adoption). Practice-management consultants can take heart in knowing that 80% of survey respondents indicated they will seek outside assistance or education to help them prepare for EHR readiness, selection and contracting.
The most commonly cited barrier to EHR adoption was the cost of the systems, the survey reporteda finding that is consistent with those of other surveys of provider IT-buying trends.
The HIMSS survey also indicated that the efforts to promote adoption of e-prescribing software may have hit a wall. Twenty-one percent of respondents said their organizations have e-prescribing software systems in place, with 42% of large practices having e-Rx systems, but only 16% of small practices having them. But of those who do not have e-prescribing systems, 68% indicated their practices have no plans to install the technology in the future.
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