Predictions on EHR adoption in 2012

Posted on January 4, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I mentioned that I’d be doing some predictions on EHR adoption in 2012. Well, it turns out that I did a large part of my EHR adoption predictions in my Meaningful Use 2012 Predictions post. Here’s the section on EHR adoption prediction in case you missed it:

Hospitals Capitalize – My best prediction is that hospitals will see the money flowing and be unable to resist following the money line. We’ve already largely seen this shift in hospitals IT projects. I know a number of healthcare entrepreneurs who have said that hospitals aren’t really doing any major IT projects outside of meaningful use. Hospitals will continue this trend and will likely end up taking the majority of the EHR stimulus money that’s being paid out.

Small Doctors Offices Stay Away – As I wrote about previously, most EHR incentive money is being paid to existing EHR users. In 2012 we’ll be moving past those existing EHR users and I predict that most small doctors offices will continue to sit on the sideline of EHR. The money isn’t large enough for small doctors to overcome all the work required for them to implement an EHR and the EHR penalties are a drop in the bucket for most of these doctors.

I imagine that many will be thinking, “What about the other EHR benefits beyond EHR stimulus money?” To that I’d say, you’re absolutely right. There are plenty of other benefits to having an EHR that don’t include government money for EHR. Unfortunately, the free government money has created this myopic view of the world where those other benefits have lost all their appeal.

With that as background, I personally still say that we’re probably somewhere around 25% EHR adoption. I’m talking about doctors who chart in their EHR all day every day. Certainly the number is much higher if you expand it to anyone who is charting something electronically.

My ambitious guess is that we may even reach 50% EHR adoption by the end of 2012. To me this would be a huge jump, but it seems that the momentum might just be there to make that big jump. I didn’t think this previously, but an experience yesterday at my wife’s OB/GYN has me thinking that EHR adoption may come quicker than I think. Although, it also firmed up my idea that after this wave of EHR adoption we’re going to hit a nasty wall.

A Little History
First let me tell you that my wife and I have been going to this OB/GYN for about 6 years. She’s an older physician who we love. I think that love happens after a miscarriage and two healthy babies. Being that I was working in the EMR field, every time my wife’s gone for an appointment I’ve asked this doctor what she thought of EMR. I believe in our first encounter about 5 years ago her response was something like, “I’ll never do an EMR. I’m good with my paper charts.”

With our last child (he is now 2.5 years old), I mentioned that there was some free government money for EHR. Her response stuck with my wife and I. She literally laughed one of those spontaneous can’t stop laughs and then almost to herself said, “Free money for EHR…*more laughing.”

Needless to say she wasn’t that interested in EHR or any free government money.

Yesterday’s Visit
My wife had another appointment with the OB/GYN yesterday and I decided to tag along. Yes, I mostly just wanted to poke her about EHR use again to see where she was when it comes to EHR and hear her perspectives. She came into the room and said something about not having my wife’s full chart and needing to get it out of storage. I saw the perfect opportunity and so I asked her where her EHR was. She responded, “We have an EHR.”

I was a little taken back by her response. First, because she was so anti-EHR before. Second, because she what seemed like a relatively full paper chart in her hand and was asking for the old paper chart to be pulled from storage. I then prodded some more and said, then where is your EHR? She said it was in the hall. She saw 7 patients an hour (did I hear that right?) and there’s no way she could do the EHR and keep that productivity. I then asked her when she did her charting in the EHR, after hours? She kind of nodded with those stares that mostly says, “I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to get my charting done in the EHR.”

When my wife and I were heading to leave, my wife’s doctor asked what I believe was a nurse in the office which EHR software they were using. Yes, she knew the name of the company, but this EHR company has 6-8 EHR software (I bet you can guess which one) and she didn’t know which one they had. The other lady was going to pull up the EHR so I could see, but the EHR was down. Needless to say, I knew the company and the product quite well. In fact, I have an an entire thread on EMR and EHR about this EHR company with people complaining about it.

As we were leaving, my wife’s doctor said, “I hate EHR. It makes me feel like I’m crazy.” (as she held her hands up next to her head in the universal sign for getting driven crazy) Then she pulled out the “Sucks” word as she referenced her EHR vendor.

As I say above. This story just reinforced my view that many like this anti-EHR doctor will adopt EHR in 2012, but if others experiences are anything like her experience then we’re going to hit a massive wall.

For those wondering, my wife’s appointment went well. At her next appointment I’ll have her leave my business card and see if I can do lunch with her doctor some time to get the rest of the story. I want to ask her what she thinks of Meaningful use! lol