EHR Adoption Grows Slowly, Steadily at Small Practices

August 23, 2011
Marisa Torrieri

Practices of all sizes are adopting EHRs at a growing rate. And some of the fastest growth is among smaller practices.

A study released earlier this month shows that practices of all sizes - independent and hospital-owned alike - are continuing to adopt EHRs at a rapid rate, just one year since CMS released the outline of its Stage 1 “meaningful use” incentive criteria. 

EHR adoption grew two percent between October 2010 and July 2011, according to a survey from healthcare marketing firm SK&A, under contract from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

The survey, drawn from 237,562 medical offices, reveals that 51 percent of physicians’ offices with three to five providers use EHRs, up from 47 percent in October 2010. Additionally, 31 percent of solo-provider practices now use EHRs, up from 29 percent in October. Large practices also increased EHR use: 63 percent of mid-size practices with six to ten physicians use EHRs, as do 72 percent of practices with 11 to 25 physicians, and 76 percent of practices with 26 or more physicians.

Technology providers and consultants on the first birthday of “meaningful use” in July told us they expect continued growth over the next six months.

Joel Andersen, president of EHR provider ClearPractice, said he has seen a large influx of practices starting their EHR evaluation process in preparation for meaningful use.

“The majority of volume has begun in the past few months, now that physicians are seeing the first meaningful use installment checks being received by the early EHR adopters,” said Andersen. “There is however still a great deal of indecision among groups on what solution to choose. A challenge with this is heightened given so many EHR solutions currently available.”

Healthcare consultant Bruce Kleaveland echoed those sentiments.

“Practices are actively responding to the incentives - just looking at the number of primary care docs signed up within Regional Extension Center program gives you a sense that many reluctant practices are taking the EHR leap,” he said.

We want to hear from you. Has your practice implemented an EHR in the last few months? How has the process been going? Post your response below.