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Accenture Says Physician Laggards are Poised to Finally Adopt 

by Clive Riddle, March 5, 2010

Smaller physician offices, lacking infrastructure and capital and perhaps motivation, have been viewed as the stumbling blocks to widespread physician EMR adoption, And without adequate physician adoption, hospital and health plan adoption won’t likely achieve the level of effectiveness required to justify their investments.

Accenture this week released results from a study conducted by their Innovation Center for Health and Institute for Health & Public Service Value in conjunction with Harris Interactive in which they surveyed 1,000 U.S. physicians from smaller practices (fewer than 10 physicians) regarding EMR use, with 15% of respondents being current EMR users at various levels and 85% non-users.

The good news? The majority of non-users say they now intend to purchase a system, and the percentage goes way up when you ask those who aren’t so close to retirement. The bad news?  (1) The majority if them are looking to hospitals for help and subsidies; (2) saying you intent to purchase a system doesn’t necessarily translate into actually doing so; and (3) there’s still a material number that won’t even go so far as to make that verbal commitment, despite upcoming federal penalties and incentives.

Here’s some of the key findings from Accenture:

  • 58% of non-users intend to purchase an EMR system within the next two years;
  • About 80% of physicians under age 55 plan to implement an EMR system within the next two years;
  • 75% of non-users are potentially interested purchasing an EMR system from a local hospital - if at least subsidized for about half the cost;
  • The key driver of EMR adoption is federal legislation - 61% cited federal penalties for non-adoption and 51% cited federal incentives;
  • Non-users underestimate the cost and time requirements to implement an EMR system, but also have an exaggerated perception of difficulties in using EMR systems, compared to the actual experiences of EMR users;
  • 90% of current EMR users – believe that their system has brought value to their practice- providing an effective overview of patients’ relevant history, records and information; and allowing quick and accurate data entry.

Accenture credits federal legislation for stimulating interest. Dr. Kip Webb, who leads their clinical transformation practice, tells us “our research indicates that, as intended, federal legislation is an important driver of EMR adoption among U.S. physicians. If U.S. health care providers properly implement and use EMRs more broadly, there is no doubt that EMRs can make an important contribution to improving quality of care and controlling costs.”

While a wider number have some level of EMR, Accenture notes that “today, just six percent of U.S. office-based physicians use a fully functioning system.”

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