Electronic Health Record Trends for 2016

The finalized rules of HITECH Act’s Stage 3 were released at the end-of last year by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Office of the National Coordinator (ONC). The rules signaled a maturing point in the health industry’s adoption of electronic health record (EHR) initiatives as the rules enabled the development of user-friendly portals, data exchanges, and increased incentives for data system infrastructure improvements.

According to research conducted by Kalorama Information, the market for EHR-based solutions will continue to grow by rate of 7-8% annually through 2019[1]. More healthcare providers are beginning to leverage newfound opportunities for their EHR systems. Below are four major industry trends that will lead the industry’s push of increased EHR interoperability and patient engagement for 2016:

1. Increased Regulatory Oversight

Increased regulation oversight will play a major role in advancing the interoperability of EHR and health technologies. A major addition to the finalized provisions of the HITECH Act is the establishment of a technology certification framework that adds flexibility in how CMS and ONC regulate the use of health information[2].

The certification program was created to widen the scope of technologies used by healthcare providers, optimizing the productivity of their EHR. The finalized rules also give healthcare providers more time to develop their IT systems to meet the new regulation requirements, delaying the enforcement of penalties.

2. EHR Is Moving to the Cloud

The added flexibility in HITECH’s regulation will allow healthcare providers to utilize the scalability advantages of cloud computing. The added security provisions of the new rules are expected to act as a catalyst for more secure data system infrastructures and methods of encryption.

Smaller to mid-sized healthcare providers will also see tremendous advantageous in moving their systems into the cloud. The scalability advantages of cloud computing will allow smaller and mid-sized healthcare providers to become more competitive, raising the quality of healthcare in more remote areas.

3. EHR Continues to Go Mobile

The Healthcare Industry has become more accepting of mobile and web applications for ongoing services. Patients are increasingly becoming more accustomed to accessing health information through their mobile devices. A recent study by Pew Research Center found that 62% of smartphone users have used their phone to browse information about a health condition[3]. As devices grow more sophisticated and the mobile health market continues to mature, the demand for greater functionality and services like wellness and chronic disease treatments will continue to increase.

Accessing EHR through mobile devices has also proven to be a strong preference for healthcare providers. A study conducted by Software Advice found that 61% of physicians found accessing EHR on mobile device less challenging to use than non-mobile devices[4]. The preference is largely due to the convenience of accessing EHRs outside of a workstation.

4. Greater Priority in Patient Portal Experience

Patient portals will continue to play a major role in patient engagement for healthcare providers. The Stage 2 rules of the HITECH Act made patient portals a requirement for EHR compliance. The increased use of mobile applications and adoption of wearables has created greater emphasis on improving the security and usability of patient portals to communicate with healthcare providers, pay bills, and privately access information.

Previous stages of the HITECH Act offered incentives for the adoption of EHR systems to replace paper patient records. Emerging trends for 2016 show the health industry taking EHR systems a step further by applying its advantages to scale with mobile devices and cloud computing. With information being stored and streamed from the cloud, the industry will continue to invest in more reliable portal security measures for patients.

Tiempo Development utilizes Agile Methodologies to develop customized software-enabled solutions for its clients in the Healthcare Industry. Our software engineers are all experienced in and attain certifications to develop HIPAA compliant solutions, from databases to web applications to mobile application development. To learn more about our work, read our Adreima Case Study.

[1] Bernie M. “EMR market to grow even without carrot.” Healthcare IT News. http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/emr-market-grow-even-without-carrot

[2] “2015 Edition Health Information Technology (Health IT) Certification Criteria ,…”. National Archives and Records Administration. https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/10/16/2015-25597/2015-edition-health-information-technology-health-it-certification-criteria-2015-edition-base#h-9

[3] Aaron S. “U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015”. Pew Research Center. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/

[4] Gaby L. “Electronic Health Records Software user Report – 2014”. Software Advice