For anyone out there that doubted whether the Meaningful Use incentive program has influenced the adoption of electronic health records, here's proof, according to a study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.
The researchers wanted to quantify whether health IT certification and Meaningful Use were making a quantifiable impact on supply and demand in the EHR market. Their study analyzed a cohort of 3,447 hospitals from 2006-2010.
They found that the government programs encouraging the adoption of EHRs were creating substantial changes in the structure of the EHR market, creating a trend toward EHRs and away from paper records. The study also found that there were more vendors in the market, and more competition among those vendors.
However, the changes differed based on the size of the hospital and its location. Smaller hospitals experienced the greatest changes; larger hospitals didn't see "dramatic" change in competition and the number of available EHR vendors.
"The EHR market is changing most dramatically for those least equipped to handle broad technological transformation, which underscores the need for continued targeted support," the researchers said. "Furthermore, wide variations across the nation indicate a continued role for states in the support of EHR utilization."
The government already has paid more than $5 billion to providers who have met the Meaningful Use requirements. What is left to speculation is how the market would have evolved without government intervention, and what will occur once the Meaningful Use incentive program ends. What also is yet to be determined is whether market forces on their own would have changed the functionality of EHR systems and in what way.
To learn more:
- here's the abstract