An Accenture study shows the global market for electronic health records (EHR) is estimated to reach $22.3 billion with North America projected to account for roughly half with $10.1 billion. The news comes alongside the request by a number of healthcare providers asking HHS to modify meaningful use requirements and implementation timelines.
“Although the market is growing, the ability of healthcare leaders to achieve sustained outcomes and proven returns on their investments poses a significant challenge to the adoption of electronic health records,” said Kaveh Safavi, global managing director of Accenture Health in an interview with CivSource during the annual HIMSS Conference in Orlando. “We’re really at a tipping point as providers have to start looking at movements to meaningful use 3. They have to start considering how EHR can be part of a care platform.”
Worldwide, the EHR market is projected to grow at 5.5% annually through 2015, Accenture’s previous research shows that would represent a slowdown from roughly 9% growth during 2010. Despite the slower pace of growth globally, the combined EHR market in North and South America (The Americas) is expected to reach $11.1 billion by the end of 2015, compared to an estimated $4 billion in the Asia Pacific region and $7.1 billion in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
“Some providers are already starting to make the move to EHR on their own, and patients too are expecting more,” Safavi says. “They want to be able to book appointments online, get prescriptions online, have telemedicine and track their health information. Providers will have to consider ways to integrate all of this.”
Driven by consolidation and the federal Meaningful Use guidelines, the United States is expected to remain the largest EHR market in the Americas and globally, with a projected annual growth rate of 7.1 percent and will total $9.3 billion by the end of 2015. Yet, physicians themselves are concerned about how all of this will play out. In a letter sent to the Department of Health and Human Services on February 21, 46 organizations wrote to the secretary asking for more time. More than 5,000 hospitals and some 550,000 health care professionals will have to implement certified EHR technologies this year, but if they can’t the consequences could be harsh.
The problem is, they say, that many EHR solutions in the market were certified to 2011 requirements, not 2014. So there appears to be a shortage of solutions. “We are concerned this dynamic will cause providers to either abandon the possibility of meeting meaningful use criteria or be forced to implement a system much more rapidly than would otherwise be the case,” said the signatories.
Signatories argue that vendors need time to catch up, as to providers tasked with onboarding the technology as soon as they can get it. While enterprise level healthcare is having a hard time keeping pace with technology certification requirements, consumers are using FitBits and other devices to quantify their own health. Telemedicine is also a new focus area for states with geographical challenges or rural populations. While one side ramps up, and the other temporarily slows down there is a greater potential for problems with interoperability.
“I think we’re at least three years out before you start to see real health information exchanges between the provider continuum, and that’s going to extend through to these issues like the quantified self,” Safavi says. “The faster we can start to integrate more of these technologies especially with respect to chronic disease management or just simple things like SMS appointment reminders you can start to see more savings in time and ER visits. There’s no one silver bullet here, but people are working through implementation, and providers will need to smooth out the edges.”