HIT, reform and providers
The market for EMR data transfer equipment and applications, valued at $575 million in 2008, is projected to reach $1.6 billion in 2013, according to a study from research firm Kalorama Information. The new report states this segment of the patient monitoring market will grow 23.3 percent annually through 2013, spurred on by the growing use of EMRs in hospitals and physician offices.
The promise of this market segment falls in line with sentiments the president expressed in a letter sent Tuesday to Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), in which Obama reiterated his commitment to promoting the use of information technology as a means of reducing healthcare costs.
Obama added the White House is determined to go after "the key drivers of skyrocketing healthcare costs, including unmanaged chronic diseases, duplicated tests and unnecessary hospital readmissions."
But while some market trend data and the president’s hopes are encouraging, it’s worth noting that more than 50 percent of healthcare providers believe the billions of dollars earmarked for healthcare IT under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will have little to no success in encouraging adoption, according to a new survey.
Conducted by IVANS, Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based provider of electronic communications services to insurance and healthcare companies, the report draws on feedback from 508 healthcare providers throughout the United States, who were surveyed in April 2009. While most of the providers see the benefits of health IT—66 percent believe EHRs can have a positive impact on their business, while 74 percent believe EHRs can have a positive impact on the healthcare industry overall—the biggest challenge to implementation cited by providers was, “lack of budget” (82 percent) followed by “lack of awareness and expertise.”
The same report concludes that 59 percent of providers surveyed already have implemented or plan to implement EHRs in the next 12 months, but only 17 percent are participating or planning to participate in a health information exchange.
While none of this data is shocking—survey after survey favors increased HIT adoption, after all—it is telling nonetheless. It takes more than strong market projections and political grandstanding to usher in an age of health reform, and the lack of buy-in among health care providers speaks volumes of the government’s approach thus far.
But there is an upside. If the two biggest challenges to implementation are “lack of budget” and “lack of awareness and expertise,” then these are problems with simple solutions: Money and education. Given a realistic timeline, we just might pull it off.