The Impact of HITECH on EHR Implementation

Software Advice, a trusted resource for buyers of software, recently published findings from a three-year study following the changing demand drivers among prospective buyers of eclectronic health record (EHR) software.

The study captured data over two sample periods: Q1 2010 (shortly after the HITECH Act was signed into law) and Q1 2013. In both sample periods, the reasons providers expressed interest in purchasing EHR software broadly fell into the following categories:

• Replacing paper records;
• Replacing existing EHR software;
• Opening a new practice;
• Replacing other software that wasn’t specifically designed for medical records; or
• Some combination of the above.

For both sample periods, replacing paper records was the most-mentioned reason for EHR purchases. However, the percentage of practices replacing paper records fell significantly from 2010 to 2013, while the percentage of respondents replacing existing software grew by almost 50 percent.

These findings seem to validate a hypothesis that the HITECH Act spurred some practices to adopt EHRs too hastily. For providers, this highlights the importance of having a rigorous selection process in place before making a purchase.

Digging deeper into the data allows us to determine why practices are replacing existing EHRs.

Mentions of being “unhappy with current EHR” grew by 11 percent from 2010 to 2013. Additionally, concerns with cost rose significantly, from only one mention in 2010 to being mentioned by one out of every eight participants in 2013. Customer service concerns grew by nearly 50 percent.

Replacing Paper
The percentage of buyers replacing paper charts decreased from 64.9 percent in 2010 to 50.9 percent in 2013.

In both 2010 and 2013, the top reasons practices mentioned for switching from paper to electronic records had to do with the general benefits of a paperless environment – decreasing paperwork, improving efficiency, and becoming more organized. These motivations suggest practices are interested in more than just stimulus dollars; they also seem to recognize the inherent value of electronic records.

Among potential EHR buyers, we observed a decline in the proportion of practices transitioning from paper to electronic records, contrasted with an increase in the proportion of practices replacing existing software. What our data points don’t show, by virtue of only including buyers in the market for an EHR, are the many providers who are not replacing their EHR solutions – those who have successfully implemented electronic records with great benefit to their practices.

With EHR replacements on the rise, we conclude by emphasizing the need for practices to perform due diligence before making a purchase decision. Careful research can be awarded with a system that contributes to improved patient outcomes as well as increased financial health for practices.


David Fried originally contributed this report to Software Advice, where he currently covers medical practice management, the EMR industry, and political and regulatory issues affecting doctors. View the full report, including methodology and limiting factors, here: Four Years Later: The Impact of the HITECH Act on EHR Implementations.