Solo practitioners and small physician practices finally are jumping onto the electronic health record bandwagon, for the first time adopting EHR systems at a greater rate than larger medical groups.
That's the conclusion of a recent study of 240,281 medical sites by healthcare research firm SK&A. Adoption by smaller practices was outpacing larger groups, up 6 percent in the latter part of 2011 from 30.8 percent to 36.9 percent. In contrast, the adoption rate during the same time period for practices with between six and 10 doctors was up only 2 percent.
Dave Escalante, Vice President and General Manager of SK&A & OneKey, attributed the gains to the government's incentive program and funding of the regional extension centers, which are helping to train smaller practices. He also credited EHR vendors, saying that they "are continuing to promote aggressively to the small-office market, which they see as the next frontier of sales opportunities."
Adoption also was higher for practices owned by hospitals and those with more exam rooms.
Of course, the increase in adoption rates aren't necessarily surprising, since a much higher percentage of larger practices already have adopted EHRs--essentially, there's more room to grow with the smaller practices.
Smaller practices, which typically lack internal IT staff, also have had to overcome obstacles interfering with their transition to EHRs, such as lack of vendor support and trouble choosing the right vendor. They also have been stymied by the cost of EHRs.