Cloud-based EHRs could save docs from acquisition

Upgrading software to more fully integrate revenue cycle management, practice management and electronic health records may be the key to helping thousands of physician practices remain independent, according to a new Black Book survey.

Federal mandates to adopt health IT are driving independent physicians to join hospitals or health systems that can handle the technology while the docs continue to focus on their patients. Yet a majority of independent providers want to remain that way, according to Black Book senior partner Douglas Brown.

"Profit challenges have forced the number of practices actively seeking acquisition to more than to triple until recently, as cloud EHRs with RCM innovations have given independents new hope," Brown said.

Its report on the state of the revenue cycle management (RCM) industry--a $12 billion segment among physician practices--cites demands on providers due to reimbursement and payment reforms, accountable care participation, ICD-10 coding challenges and declining revenues.

Among the survey findings with 8,000 respondents:

  • 87 percent of all physician practices agree their billing and collections systems/processes need upgrading
  • 92 percent of those seeking an RCM-practice management (PM) upgrade or replacement are only considering an EHR-centric applications
  • 96 percent of practices achieving Meaningful Use 1 attestation and those highly satisfied with EHR vendor performance agree that fully integrated practice management/revenue cycle management systems equipped with EHR software are the key to practice survival and independence from acquisition
  • 88 percent of business managers fear that their outdated revenue cycle management systems, particularly those not integrated to EHRs, will force their physician to sell the entire practice within 12 months or close it
  • 88 percent of hospitals and 76 percent of large physician groups that had bought independent practices said there was little or no salvageable technology (EHR, PM, or RCM) among the practice assets

Black Book named Irvine, Calif.- based Kareo, Inc. the top ambulatory EHR/practice management/revenue cycle management vendor. Runners up included Care360/Quest Diagnostics, Care Cloud, athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Vitera, McKesson, Optum, SimplifyMD, Greenway Medical, Practice Fusion, GE Healthcare, Epic, e-MDs, NextGen, Allscripts, ChartLogic, ADP AdvancedMD, and Henry Schein MicroMD.

Black Book previously predicted that more than half the EHR vendors in the market today won't be around in five years.

To learn more:
- find the survey