Pace of EMR Adoption During the Past 5 Years

October 14, 2013 by Lorren Pettit, MBA

Lorren PettitHIMSS Clinical Informatics Insights

A lot of attention over the past five years has been focused on the adoption of electronic medical record (EMR) technologies in U.S. hospitals. The interest is understandable given all the money the government is spending to incent providers to use these technologies in a meaningful way, but the idea of EMR adoption in a hospital is a little more complex than how it is typically presented in the press. For one thing, there is no such thing as a singular “EMR application.” The EMR is a suite of tools comprised of distinct applications. To really understand a hospital’s EMR adoption status, we need to understand the hospital’s progression in building out an EMR.

Fortunately, the HIMSS Analytics EMR Adoption Model (EMRAM) provides an eight-stage framework for monitoring the development of a robust EMR system. First introduced into the market in 2006, HIMSS Analytics has been monitoring, on a quarterly basis, the array of hospitals amongst the various EMRAM stages. While it is fairly common knowledge that the bulk of U.S. hospitals have been progressively moving toward advanced EMRAM stages, the unknown concerns the “pace” at which these organizations are moving.

HIMSS Analytics staff recently analyzed the quarterly EMRAM progression of 4,811 hospitals during the last five years (Q2 2008 and Q2 2013). As was expected, the vast majority of all U.S. hospitals (73.7 percent) have advanced at least EMRAM stage during this period. Not surprising as this observation aligns with the shifting distribution the EMRAM profile discussed above. What we found most interesting was that almost half of those organizations showing some advancement reflected a fairly progressive adoption posture advancing by two or three stages during this period, with another 20 percent assuming an aggressive EMR adoption pace, advancing four or more stages in five years.

Perhaps the most startling finding was roughly one-quarter of the hospitals we looked at showed no progression whatsoever during this period. They have remained at the same EMRAM stage the last five years. Moreover, just over four percent of the hospitals have remained at EMRAM stage 0 (a truly paper-based environment) for the past five years.

There is much to celebrate about health IT during the last five years. Hospitals by and large have made great strides in advancing their EMR capabilities, yet there is a sizeable segment of the market that seems to be “stuck” in their EMR progression and is at risk of being left behind by the rest of the herd (of U.S. hospitals). Efforts need to be taken now to address their needs and challenges to ensure these “at-risk” hospitals survive for the next five years.

About the Contributor
Lorren Pettit is Vice President of Market Research for HIMSS Analytics. He works with an expert team offering clients strategic guidance toward achieving sustainable growth and market leadership positioning.

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