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Small medical offices take lead in growth of EHR adoption, according to SK&A study

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IRVINE, CA – March 8, 2012 – Small medical offices with one or two physicians in the practice are the fastest-growing segment  for adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHR) software, according to the latest results of an ongoing study by SK&A, A Cegedim Company, a provider of healthcare information solutions and research.

SK&A’s recently updated “Physician Office Usage of Electronic Health Records Software” report reveals, for the first time in two years, that solo and small practices are outpacing larger group practices in EHR adoption. For the second half of 2011, the adoption rate for single-doctor offices jumped 6 percent, from 30.8 percent to 36.9 percent, while the adoption rate for offices with 6 to 10 doctors jumped only 2 percent, from 63 percent to 65 percent.

“Smaller practices are no longer lagging in EHR adoption,” said Dave Escalante, Vice President and General Manager of SK&A and OneKey.  “The federal government’s offer of reimbursements of up to $64,000 to physicians who show meaningful use and its funding of regional IT training programs for medical workers are beginning to pay off in the adoption cycle.  Moreover, vendors of EHR technology and their partners are continuing to promote aggressively to the small-office market, which they see as the next frontier of sales opportunities.”   

SK&A’s report, which was based on an ongoing telephone survey of 240,281 U.S. medical sites, showed an overall EHR adoption rate of 45.6 percent, up from 40.4 percent from the prior period. Other trends include:

•    The overall EHR adoption rate rises as the number of physicians practicing at each site rises. Offices with three to five practicing physicians had 54.9-percent adoption, while offices with 26-plus practicing physicians had 77.2-percent adoption.

•    The EHR adoption rate rises as the number of exam rooms at each site rises. Offices with one to three exam rooms had 34.6-percent average adoption, while offices with 11-plus exam rooms had 66.6-percent adoption.

•    EHR adoption rises as the average daily patient volume at each site rises. Offices with average daily patient volumes of one to 50 patients had 41.2-percent adoption, while offices with 101-plus patients had 68.4-percent adoption.

•    Physician specialties with the highest adoption rates are dialysis (68.4%), pathology (66.2%), nuclear medicine (64.2%), and radiology (62.8%).  

Site ownership also plays a role in EHR adoption. Medical practices owned by hospitals or health systems had higher adoption rates.  Hospital-owned sites had an adoption rate of 59.5 percent compared to non-hospital-owned sites at 43.2 percent. Sites owned by health systems had an adoption rate of 64.2 percent versus those not owned by health systems at 43.1 percent.  Additional findings of the study include EHR adoption rates and growth by software application, region and state.

Another ongoing survey by SK&A, titled “EHR Adoption in Medical Offices: Looking Forward,” provides deeper insights for EHR installation and intent, including timeframes for adoption, buying factors, primary decision makers and awareness of government incentives. Key findings in this survey from the second half of 2011 of 52,144 U.S. medical sites who have not adopted an EHR include:

•    70 percent have not determined an adoption timeframe.
•    Cost is the most important buying factor for 18.7 percent of physician offices.
•    67.3 percent of offices have indicated no single primary buying factor.
•    The doctor(s) at the practice (71.1%) are the primary decision makers.

SK&A continues its multiyear contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to track adoption rates and planned usage.


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