Fierce Q&A: ACA ruling will accelerate EHR adoption

The Supreme Court's ruling upholding the health reform law will have a profound impact on both the use of electronic health records and on the vendors who sell them, says Nancy Fabozzi, Senior Industry Analyst with Frost and Sullivan.

"You'll see disruption across the board," Fabozzi tells FierceEMR in an exclusive interview.

Fabozzi forecasts that adoption of EHRs will accelerate as providers prepare for the onslaught of millions of newly insured people who will be seeking medical treatment.

FierceEMR: How does the ruling directly impact EHR use?

Nancy Fabozzi: The adoption of EHRs will accelerate. [Because of the ruling], the providers are going ahead with accountable care organizations and coordination of care programs, and these need a robust health IT infrastructure. Plus, data and information has got to flow. Those walls [that impede data exchange among EHRs] have got to come down.

FEMR: How will the ruling affect hospitals' implementation of EHRs?

Fabozzi: You need to look at the different market segments. For larger hospitals, these projects are underway to adopt EHRs and meet Meaningful Use. This is not a big game changer for them. We will see disruption with smaller hospitals that still use legacy systems. They can no longer sit on the fence. These providers will be more inclined to be bought out.

FEMR: Will physicians follow suit?

Fabozzi: This will really hit the ambulatory side, especially smaller practices that have been waiting around to adopt. If there's going to be a huge onslaught of patients and stipulations to get paid, it's more likely they'll adopt EHRs and/or be bought out by hospitals.

FEMR: How will this impact EHR vendors?

Fabozzi: Their client base is changing. Doctors will no longer use small vendors. That disruption in revenue, plus the money needed to transition to Stage 2 of Meaningful Use will cause a lot of these vendors to go out of business. The vendors that have been winning big are Epic and Cerner because they can integrate hospitals and ambulatory practices. This will continue and accelerate.

FEMR: Do you have any recommendations?  

Fabozzi: EHRs are important, but also important are revenue cycle management tools, and they need to be fully integrated with each other, a marriage of the clinical piece with the financial/administrative piece. Providers will need to manage the revenue from all these new patients with insurance--preregistration, copayments, charge capture, and patient portals. Hospitals, in particular, can't leave money on the table.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.