Adoption of healthcare IT is on a steady incline in the small physician practice as revealed in a March 2010 survey done by NaviNet, a real-time healthcare communications network. NaviNet conducted a survey of IT and EMR adoption trends in small practices with ten or fewer physicians via email and received 269 responses.
In 2009, only 9 percent of respondents from practices with 10 or fewer physicians reported that they planned to implement EMRs within the next six months, yet six months later EMR implementation was higher than expected at 12 percent. Furthermore, the percentage of respondents with no plans to implement an EMR has decreased significantly. In 2009, 31 percent reported that they had no plans to implement EMRs but in 2010, only 21 percent say they have no plans to implement.
The survey showed that 12 percent of provider practices report that they plan to implement EMRs and 17 percent say that their offices will implement a new EMR system by the 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.
The NaviNet survey indicates that nearly twice as many provider offices making decisions on whether to buy IT are driven by concerns about not being reimbursed versus the potential to earn incentives. In 2010, respondents were asked what external factors were influencing their decision about changes to technology with 53 percent reporting that CMS mandates had an influence. The CMS mandates outline rules for claims submission and what will be required for reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid.
Administrative concerns continue to be a pressing issue for providers even 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 resulting in 44 percent in 2009 and 45 percent in 2010.
However, in 2010, nearly 50 percent of respondents said that cost still remains the biggest barrier to EMR adoption. The survey showed that some provider offices are still unaware of EMR adoption, or simply responded that the practice does not need an EMR, or they do not see how the practice will achieve a return on the investment.
The survey results show that the opportunity to receive incentives from ARRA after meeting the CMS criteria for “Meaningful Use” of technology is becoming more important. However, 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 26 percent of the respondents said that they plan on following CMS guidelines for “Meaningful Use” to qualify for incentive payments provided by ARRA. More than 60 percent said they were unaware or unsure of what the “Meaningful Use” reporting requirements are, and nearly 48 percent said that the “Meaningful Use” requirements will not impact their EMR buying decisions.
“It is encouraging 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. He continued to say “It is clear that opportunities remain for education on how to meet Federal requirements. Providers would benefit from knowing that there are a wide variety of IT solutions in addition to EMRs that could satisfy their office’s business requirements and the clinical criteria for “Meaningful Use”. Many physicians already have these solutions in their offices so additional investment could be minimal or unnecessary”.
For NaviNet survey results, go to www.navinet.net/meaningfuluse or www.NaviNet.net or call (617) 715-6000.