Discussion About EMR Study by Accenture

One of the first people I talked with when I arrived at HIMSS was a meeting with Dr. Greg Parston from Accenture. Dr. Parston has an interesting job at Accenture since it seems like he gets paid to just study interesting topics. Not a bad gig.

Well, it turns out that Accenture and Dr. Parston had been working on a few studies related to EMR (imagine that). So, we had a really interesting discussion about the findings of their survey and Dr. Parston even made some predictions about the future of the EMR market. The following are some of the takeaways I thought were interesting from our discussion:

First some details about the survey. It was a survey of 1000 doctors done in December of 2009 from all over the country. They showed a 15% percent adoption rate for EMR, or basically in line with most of the other projections of EMR adoption.

The study then took a look at the next 24 months and these doctors plans for that time period. They found that 60% intend to purchase an EMR system in the next 24 months. However, if you look at just those doctors that were under 55, the number intending to purchase an EMR is 80 percent.

A few other interesting things about their motivations and size. They found that the stimulus money was the number 1 factor for wanting to implement an EMR. I guess this isn’t surprising, but it’s unfortunate. Sure seems like a hard thing to reconcile when I think that most doctors want to use technology to become more efficient. Yet, there number one motivation (EMR Stimulus money) does nothing to improve productivity. An EMR might increase your productivity, but “meaningful use” and “certified EHR” don’t help with that.

Dr. Parston also mentioned that doctors want to control their data. Imagine that! Sorry hospitals and SaaS EMR (except for those SaaS EMR that give doctors their data, I’m not talking to you).

The most interesting part of our conversation was that Dr. Parston projected that there would be 70 percent EHR adoption in 3 years. I posted that to twitter right after he said it to a mixed response with more people saying that won’t happen. What do you think about this? That’s a pretty lofty projection if you ask me. I’ll be surprised if we top 50% EHR adoption in 3 years.

Finally, Dr. Parston also mentioned that in one of his EMR studies they found that 70 of Americans said it was very important or important for a doctor to have EMR. This number kind of bothers me, because I just don’t see this same patient demand for doctors to use an EMR. You may remember that I’ve written a few times about EMR adoption waiting for consumer demand for EMR. So, I think this will happen at some point. I just don’t think we’re there yet.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Three years = 70% adoption sounds like fuzzy math to me, considering the adoption growth rate of the past three years. According to the ONC in January (http://healthit.hhs.gov/blog/onc/index.php/2010/01/26/new-physician-adoption-statistics/):

    > 2007 – 17%
    > 2008 – 21%
    > Preliminary 2009 – 27%

    Even with my limited math abilities, I can see that the between 2007 and 2009 there was a growth rate of 10%. Will HITECH make that figure treble or quadruple? In the wise words of Yoda, “Always in motion is the future,” so I can’t say with absolute certainty it won’t. However, I personally doubt it, especially since I agree with you that physician productivity should be the thing driving adoption and not just the stimulus money. In the long run, that’ll be the main key to stirring massive adoption, not a possibly short-lived incentive that many may not qualify for.

  • Consumer demand for EMR won’t happen until consumer’s become more educated about Healthcare process. What happens in a doctor’s office and hospitals is mostly “Wizard of Oz behind the curtain” stuff. How many consumers know what their medical record looks like in their doctor’s office? It almost is like your “permanent record” from school. Lots of people talk about it, but no one know’s what in their or what it should do.
    EMR adoption won’t happen until the government requires it to comply with some form of pay for outcomes. This would be the equivalent to insurance companies no longer taking paper claims. That is what drove doc’s to file electronically.

  • I have also seen adoption predictions in the 60% to 70% range but I agree with John, I don’t think it would be close to that number. Solos and small practices in many ways are the most excited right now (especially with the EHR incentive payments) but they have the greatest challenges. Even if you can find a solution that is affordable, implementing and using EHRs is not so easy. We are going to go through some major pains in the next few years before we make significant progress. Providers who are excited about jumping on the EHR bandwagon should be cautious because EHR implementation is difficult and using it in a consistent basis takes months if not years of practice. Also, for the short term (maybe longer than a year), EHR will be less productive for most providers than the good old paper ways. I am optimistic that eventually, EHR will be a common place and the positive effects will be felt by the industry. But that’s probably more than 3 years away…

  • Nice additional comments. Thanks for sharing. I think this weekend I’ll post a poll asking people to predict EHR adoption in the next 3 years. That should yield some interesting results.

  • Picked this up from Modern Healthcare Magazine Group and they show some stats you were looking for.

    Has Meaningful Use Already Lost All Meaning?
    By Cynthia Porter

    The release earlier this year of expanded meaningful use requirements has gotten the healthcare IT community in quite a tizzy. The phrase was on everyone’s lips before, during, and after HIMSS. It was obvious to me

    Everyone has a strong opinion about it;
    Not everyone understands it; and
    The recent passing of healthcare reform has left providers extremely anxious about how they and the vendors they do business with will comply with “it”, depending on what “it” ultimately turns out to be.
    I know for a fact that hospital executives’ concerns about their institutions’ abilities to meet requirements and the overly aggressive timetables released as part of the expanded meaningful use requirements has increased exponentially since 2009, when the HITECH Act was initially released.

    Nearly 80 percent of 150 hospital executives recently surveyed by Porter Research noted an increased rate of adoption for e-prescribing, patient portals, and EHRs. That’s a 20% increase from 2009, before the expanded requirements were published. So it’s safe to say that providers are jumping on the bandwagon.

    Most, however, are worried that the wheels are going to fall off because vendors won’t have enough qualified employees and/or up-to-date resources to meet demand and requirements. One CIO we interviewed believes vendors “will be forced to spend more programming hours around the interoperability and security of their software versus the primary function, which is taking care of patients and making it easier for clinicians to utilize.”

    And there’s the rub. Sure, the healthcare IT community will probably benefit from the political machinations going on in Washington, but will the patients? Will vendors rush to provide hospitals with technologies that could have used a few more months of development and trial? Will hospital staff have time to adequately train their IT people to use these new technologies? Will patients pay the price for a rush job?

    It’s unfortunate that time will tell, because time is one thing patients don’t have.

    Cynthia Porter is president of Porter Research.

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