Big EHR vendors set their sights on smaller targets

Doctor with computer and gadgets
Looking for new customers, electronic health record companies are turning their attention to physician practices and small hospitals.

Electronic health record system vendors are turning their attention to an untapped market: Physician practices and small and rural hospitals.

Those healthcare settings present an opportunity for new sales of EHR systems, according to a report by Healthcare Dive.

Epic, the EHR giant that dominates the large hospital market, plans to roll out scaled-down, less expensive versions of its legacy systems later this year. The company hopes two new products will appeal to small and medium-sized organizations, such as community hospitals and even smaller hospitals with limited ancillary services, post-acute facilities, physician practices and critical access hospitals, according to the report.

Epic's move will create competition with other vendors, such as Athenahealth and Greenway Health.

While EHRs have benefits such as quick access to patient data, they're a hard sell for independent practices. Physicians often complain about the time needed to document patient care. In fact, EHRs have been shown to reduce physician satisfaction and contribute to higher rates of physician burnout.

Currently, about 85% of hospitals have an EHR and more than 80% of physicians are using them, the report said. That leaves a market made up of smaller hospitals and solo and small practices, which will have to adopt the technology to qualify for incentives under MACRA, the new Medicare payment system for physicians.