Vendors may be the biggest beneficiaries of the Meaningful Use incentive program: Sales of electronic health record systems reached $17.9 billion in 2011, up 14.2 percent from the year before, according to a new study published by Kalorama Information.
The study found that while the incentive payments contributed to this sales growth, the desire on the part of providers to improve patient outcomes and as well as their bottom line also propelled the sales.
Another recent report suggested Incentive payments, not patient care, is driving EHR adoption, FierceEMR reported earlier this month. In that study of long term acute, rehabilitation and psychiatric hospitals, published in Health Affairs, researchers found that these "ineligible" hospitals have "dismally low" rates of EHR adoption.
Still, providers are now more accepting of EHRs and more willing to invest more in them, according to Kalorama.
"Paperless medicine is no longer a concept in a few model hospitals," Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information, said in a statement. "It's something that hospitals and physicians are really incorporating into their workflows. And that is showing up in budgets and increased vendor sales."
Providers who don't adopt EHRs--and use them in a meaningful way--risk reimbursement cuts, set to go into effect by 2015. Moreover, providers who put off EHRs adoption won't qualify for the maximum incentive payments.
HHS secretary Sebelius recently reported that, as of February 2012, more than 2,000 hospitals and 41,000 eligible professionals had successfully attested to Meaningful Use and received $3.1 billion in incentive payments.