2011 EMR Prognostications and Predictions

While I admit that I’m much more suited to comment on other people’s prognostications and predictions for EMR and health care IT in 2011, I decided to throw caution to the wind and try and make some predictions for the EMR world in 2011.

Few EMR Vendor Acquisitions – I predict that acquisitions of EMR vendors will actually slow down in 2011. Certainly there needs to be some EMR company consolidation with 300+ EMR companies out there right now (and it seems more coming every day). However, I think 2011 will be a wait and see period where companies want to see how the various EMR companies perform for their clients interested in getting the EMR incentive money. The only thing that might ruin this prediction is that if many of the 300+ EMR companies have issues selling product and then have to basically sell off their assets in a fire sale. We might see some of those, but I believe even those will wait until 2012.

EHR Incentive Numbers Down – We’ve all heard the $36 billion in EHR incentive money. Of course, this is just the projection of how much EHR incentive money they’ll have to give out. I expect that when we get the total amount of EHR incentive money paid out in 2011 that it will be much lower than the projected targeted. Especially if many of them sit out 2011 and wait for 2012.

Health Information Exchange Success Stories – There are so many people working on the health information exchange issue that in 2011 we’re finally going to start seeing some breakthrough stories about the exchange of health information. Although, it won’t likely come from where we expect it. Watch for some unique approaches by companies and communities to finally make the exchange of health information a reality. It won’t be across the US in 2011, but we’ll see the signs of what could be in 2011.

Reimbursement for Online Visits – I’m far from an expert on reimbursement and trends in health insurance so this might be a stretch, but I think we’re going to see the first insurance reimbursement for some sort of online visit. The first draft will be a bit cumbersome and restricted, but it will be the start of the online doctor visit in earnest.

Portable Doctor’s Offices – A few years back I started hearing about some doctors who were going back to the old days. Not the old days of medical care, but the old days of the doctor visiting the patients in their homes. When I think about this, I always think of Little House on the Prairie and them calling for someone to go and get Doc Baker. In 2011, I bet we see a lot more doctors eschewing the traditional doctor’s office and visiting patients in their homes. With a hosted EMR and the portable laptops and iPad like technologies that we have today, it makes running an office out of your car pretty reasonable. Certainly it won’t work for all specialties, but it is a service that I think many patients would pay to have from their doctor.

PHR Adoption Will Continue to Lag – I just see no signs that PHR adoption is going to take off this year.

First EMR Lawsuit – I predict 2011 will bring the first HIPAA lawsuit where EMR is at the center of the lawsuit. It will be an important one to watch since it will likely set precedent for future EMR related lawsuits.

There you go. A few little 2011 predictions. I’d love to hear any predictions you’d like to make and which predictions I’ve made that you think are wrong and why.

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.

14 Comments

  • i agree with you when you say that the total number of EMR/EHR softwares will decline in 2011. i forsee a lot of these dedicated specialty, horribly rushed EMRs and non HITECH EMRS going the way of the buffalo.. hopefully.

    Also, im not too sure about your prediction with the mobile physicians.. the technology for a physician to be anywhere and use their software is there, the only problem is that the security is not there.

  • Interesting projection. I actually think the specialty specific EMR vendors could do very well. I think it’s the one size fits all, but are great for no one EMR companies which are going to suffer.

    I don’t see the security as the issue for the mobile physician. I could see that the culture isn’t quite ready for it, but we’ll see.

  • Hi John,

    Thank you for the predictions !!

    Not sure on what was the response rate (stats yet to come out? I believe) of Jan 3rd on Registration for the Medicare EHR incentive program.

    Cheers
    Naga

  • Naga,
    I haven’t seen any stats, and quite frankly I’m not sure they will come out. Although, I’ll be surprised if it’s very high since you don’t have to register right away for it. You can do it later if you want and still qualify this year. The end of March is when the stats for signups will get interesting.

  • I know its a big question to ask !

    The cost of implementing EMR/EHR at the hospital level using varied technologies, integration principles, etc, if Federal Govt launches a single unique EMR/EHR system, so that healthcare providers simply (??!) implement the same and customize to their practice. Not sure if this will have a significant cost saving, but of course rate of EMR/EHR implementation would be certainly Positive I hope !!!

  • Naga,
    A lot of people have suggested this before. Unfortunately, there’s so many things that make this impossible to happen. Although, let’s just imagine that it were possible, looking at a much smaller country where this was done (the UK), you can see why government providing the EMR software is not a good idea. Add in the complexities of the US and the much larger size of the healthcare system and it’s a recipe for disaster.

  • John is correct on mobile security: it is possible to secure mobile workers to the same level as desktop users, it just requires a bit more expertise.

    The fear that the new congress may kill (unlikely) or significantly revise (likely) the new health care initiative will undoubtedly dry up speculative funds around new EMR companies, and those new firms will be vanishing if they haven’t closed significant business deals.

    Anyone considering purchase of an EMR in the next 3 years should be VERY careful in their due diligence, since many of the rushed and poorly designed EMR wannabes will be waving very attractive prices in an effort to make a sale…and be gone the next year…that’s my prediction.

  • John,

    Thanks for the predictions. Out of the 300+ vendors what % do you think will go out of business this year?

    I’m interested to hear your thoughts. It seems to me that even with the stimulus the current demand is not strong enough to support 300+ vendors.

    Regards,
    Steve

  • Mike,
    I’d say the market and momentum around EMR is big enough now that speculators won’t worry as much about congress making changes (also because I think they’re unlikely to touch the EMR stimulus money). Although, the huge number of entrants into the EMR space lately will likely scare off a number of them.

    Steve,
    I don’t expect all that many EMR vendors to go out of business this year. Maybe 5% or less. However, we should see a lot more in 2012.

  • I say we cannot possibly see “the first insurance reimbursement for some sort of online visit” because it’s been occurring for several years already. The AMA issued a CPT code for billing these visits in 2004. I believe a 2006 pilot program in Seattle was the first instance of reimbursement for online visits, but since then it has expanded.

  • Wes,
    Good point. I now vaguely remember hearing something about a CPT code. The issue just remains of having more insurance companies recognizing and reimbursing that CPT code right?

    Thanks for the clarification. I’ll clarify my projection that online visits will be more widespread and accepted as a model for seeing patients.

  • Great predictions, John. We’re actually seeing some HIEs – Orion is a good example – that show some promise to offer PHR-type capabilities, where the patient can view their record, select data to remain on the record, and select providers to share with. Rather than looking at the future as HIEs vs. PHRs, I could see the growth of HIEs leading to an available PHR, which – once they discover it – will be embraced by patients. Again, great article, thanks!

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