According to a new report from healthcare market research firm Kalorama Information, the market for Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) was $20.7 billion in 2012, up 15 percent from $17.9 billion in 2011. The EMR market includes revenues from EMR and Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) systems as well as directly-related services such as installation, training, servicing and consulting. A significant driver of the growth in the EMR market continues to be the push to upgrade systems to comply with ‘meaningful use requirements’ set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress set aside nearly $20 billion in incentives for hospitals and physicians that adopt EMR systems that meet specified criteria. These incentives are provided by CMS to those providers who self-report compliance with the EMR meaningful use requirements. As of March 1, 2013, more than $12.3 billion in meaningful use incentive payments have been made to over 200,000 eligible healthcare providers.

Although business is booming for the EMR industry, indications are that healthcare providers have grown increasingly dissatisfied with EMRs. A recent study of over 4,000 physicians conducted by AmericanEHR Partners found that between 2010 and 2012, provider satisfaction and usability ratings of their EMR systems dropped across a broad range of practice specialties, settings, and products of multiple vendors. Metrics such as the percentage of clinicians who would not recommend their EMR system to a colleague increased 15%, from 24% in 2010 to 39% in 2012. Other notable findings include a 14% increase in dissatisfaction with EMR ease of use, which increased from 23% in 2010 to 37% in 2012. The increased productivity expected to result from the adoption of EMRs also continues to remain elusive with 32% of respondents indicating that they had not returned to pre-EMR levels of productivity, compared to 20% in 2010.

As the study above references, the healthcare system in the US continues to grapple with the challenges of implementing EMRs. However, a recent Pricewaterhouse Coopers study of the experience among family doctors in Canada who were implementing EMRs suggests there are significant potential benefits to the implementation of EMRs. The study found that the Canadian Health System saved $800 million Canadian Dollars in administrative efficiencies and $584 million Canadian Dollars in health system efficiencies during the time period between 2006 and 2012.

Whether the US healthcare system will come close to realizing the same level of benefits from EMRs as the Canadian system remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that despite increased dissatisfaction among health providers in the US, the implementation of EMRs will likely continue at a rapid pace for the foreseeable future.