An ongoing study by SK&A, a marketing research firm in Irvine, Calif., found that for the second half of 2011, adoption rates for single-doctor offices jumped from 30.8% to 36.9%. This is the first time that growth in that segment outpaced that of large practices.
The new regulations regarding meaningful use are thought to be the primary motivator in the increased adoption rates. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, a provision of the 2009 economic stimulus package, allows practices to earn up to $44,000 per physician over five years from Medicare or nearly $64,000 over six years from Medicaid if they show meaningful use of EHRs.
The growth rate for EHR adoption in large practices has slowed down, he noted, partially because they are beginning to hit a ceiling. Adoption in practices of 26 or more physicians grew from 75.5% to 77.2% in 2011. “But I wouldn’t say that that’s the end for the large practices,” says Jack Schember, director of marketing for SK&A, whose company has been tracking EHR adoption trends for three years by continuously surveying 240,281 U.S. medical practices. “There are many that are upgrading old systems and changing vendors.”
“[V]endors of EHR technology and their partners are continuing to promote aggressively to the small-office market, which they see as the new frontier of sales opportunities,” said Dave Escalante, vice president and general manager of SK&A and OneKey, both subsidiaries of Cegedim, a global technology and service company that specializes in health care.
EHR Adoption by Practice Size
SK&A, a health care information company, surveyed more than 50,000 medical sites and broke down electronic health records adoption by practice size. For the first time in the three years the company has been tracking EHR adoption, solo and two-physician practices saw the most growth.
Percent of EHR adoption
Number of physicians at site
|Three to five physicians||51.0%||54.9%|
|Six to 10 physicians||63.0%||64.9%|
|11 to 25 physicians||71.6%||74.0%|
|26 or more||75.5%||77.2%|
Source: “Physician Office Usage of Electronic Health Record Software,” SK&A, March 7