2015 sees a change in EHR purchase motivations
The motivations that drive ambulatory EHR purchases can be difficult to model given that a cocktail of motivations are often at the heart of the decision to purchase an EHR. Further, these motivations may be the product of input from stakeholders within an organization who will likely hold diverse expectations as to what benefits an EHR provides. With this caveat in mind, large-scale surveys often provide the best insight into consumer motivations regarding EHR purchases.
Results from the recently published 7th Annual HIMSS Analytics Ambulatory Practice Management (PM) and Electronic Health Record (EHR) Study attempts to crack the code on ambulatory EHR purchase motivations. Given the limitations outlined above related to modeling consumer decision making the study provides insight into what physicians, practice managers, administrators and executives with defined purchase plans view as their primary EHR purchase motivation.
Practice efficiency tops the podium
Among both hospital-owned and freestanding ambulatory practices, respondents overwhelmingly cited potential efficiencies to be gained (38.5 and 34.5% respectively). The desire to increase efficiency is likely the product of the current economic pressures and the high rate of competition in the ambulatory market.
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In the same vein as the quest for efficiency, quality of care also figured heavily. 24.3% of hospital-owned and 20.1% of freestanding ambulatory practices cited an EHR purchase as a vehicle to achieve increases in the quality of care delivered. In light of changing regulatory requirements found in the MU program sharing patient data between facilities rose from nearly 16 percent in 2014 to roughly 21 percent in 2015.
Motivations mirroring regulatory environment
Comparing the results from the HIMSS study with that of the ONC’s 2014 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey Physician Workflow Survey, which also monitors EHR purchase motivations, HIMSS’ findings largely square away with the ONC’s 2014 data. The ONC study shows that 62% of providers who adopted post-HITECH reported that financial incentives or penalties were major influences on their decision to adopt an EHR. Compared to those who adopted before 2009. Physicians in both groups identified the ability to electronically exchange health information with other providers as major motivation for adoption; this was the leading reason for physicians who adopted before HITECH, and 36% of physicians who adopted after HITECH passage. This differs from the HIMSS study whereby only 6.4% reported stimulus funding as the primary motivation.
the emphasis on quality of care, cost containment (efficiency) and data sharing all mirror the government’s regulatory moves
The survey data presented here paints a picture that shows ambulatory practices are committed to the proposition that shifting to a more technology driven practice can provide economic benefits in the form of greater efficiency and quality of care. Further, from this data one is struck by the influence the regulatory environment plays in purchasing decisions as the emphasis on quality of care, cost containment (efficiency) and data sharing all mirror the government’s regulatory moves toward value based reimbursement and MU requirements in interoperability factor heavily. In this sense, ambulatory EHR consumers are reacting to external regulations and market conditions. Therefore, it is likely as external conditions change EHR purchase motivations may likely respond accordingly.
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