It's going to be a busy year for those buying, selling, using and regulating electronic health systems as the country moves toward increasingly electronic health care. EHRs, of course, will be a major driver. Here are our top predictions for EHRs in 2012, culled both from around the web and from our own editors:
1. The government will continue to make headway in the Meaningful Use program. The decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to delay the start of the Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements until 2013 will give providers and HHS some breathing room to make the transition but won't stop this ball from rolling. The government will continue to market the program and tout its progress.
2. More providers will get on the EHR bandwagon, but adoption won't be universal. John Lynn, blogger on EMR and HIPAA, predicts that hospitals will surge towards EHR adoption, while small physician practices will be more likely to hold back. Overall adoption will accelerate as the early adopters receive their incentive checks and share the news with their colleagues.
3. Cloud EHRs will become more popular. Vendors are already heavily advertising the security, usability and space-saving capabilities of EHRs that use cloud technology.This trend is only going to continue.
4. HHS, OIG will begin to target EHRs for compliance purposes. So far the government, as it pushes for EHR adoption, has been giving EHR users as pass from a legal standpoint. But with the number of HIPAA security breaches skyrocketing and EHR technology such as default templates and cloned notes causing improper billing, the government is going to have to begin to crack down on EHR use that violates the law. CMS, not to be outdone, will also start auditing recipients of incentive payments to validate that the providers met Meaningful Use and were entitled to that money. https://www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms/32_Attestation.asp
5. EHR purchasers will begin to demand more from vendors. As providers become more sophisticated in their use of EHRs, they may start to assert themselves, asking for better products and becoming more discerning shoppers.