5 under-the-radar trends in the EHR market

While big purchases and replacement projects grab attention, these underlying forces are driving records decisions.

5 under-the-radar trends in the EHR market

Healthcare organizations have widely implemented electronic health records systems. Now, they’re aiming to derive value from EHRs, and that’s resulting in several challenges for providers. Kalorama Information, a Rockville, Md.-based consultancy, has identified five not-so-obvious trends encouraging the industry to take advantage of their EHRs and aim to make future purchasing decisions.

Side dishes help sell the entrée

Additional features that are added onto an EHR system are rising in importance—and they view the actual record management system as generic. The benefits of component tools such as computerized provider order entry, e-prescribing, image archiving and decision support have become clear to end users, and they may prefer to have these components integrated as part of a suite of applications. Kalorama says the availability of these tools on an integrated platform “greatly reduces compatibility issues that end users face.”

Systems aren’t supporting digital patient engagement

Efforts to engage patients have traditionally focused on face-to-face office visits. Digital patient engagement has been slow to take off, with only a small percentage of patients actually using patient portals. Improving patient engagement will require healthcare organizations to use more advanced engagement tools across the care continuum. In addition, software providers will need to “tool up” the patient portal to enable a broader engagement model.

Transparency and Interoperability rise in importance

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has announced an overhaul for the process of certifying EHRs. The agency will be able to directly review all certified EHR and health IT and call for corrective action. Essentially, ONC will create changes in oversight and authorization. ONC is flexing its muscles in increasing the call for interoperability (hence, the new name for the Meaningful Use program). Recent statements from the Trump Administration indicate that it is focused on interoperability and enabling more transparent exchange of health information between providers and with consumers.

Ongoing vendor relationships will be key

The industry is seeing a paradigm shift in customer expectations, Kalorama says. Previously, customers wanted a basic EMR vendor-provider relationship. Now, they want vendors to move from merely developing and deploying software packages and maintaining them to implementing a full range of technology solutions that help to solve real business problems.

Looming purchasing activity in physician offices

Consolidation is evident in the hospital market for EHRs, where the “giants”—Allscripts, Cerner, Change Healthcare, Epic and a few others—are dominating. But the physician office remains a growth area for EHRs. Vendors are attempting to diversify and deliver an application service provider or a remote-hosted model, which could be especially helpful as larger practices build relationships with smaller practices and attempt to address their records needs. Kalorama estimates that the physician and web-based side of the market will grow in excess of 8.5 percent annually between 2017 and 2022.

For more information

Kalorama's complete report is available here.

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