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Cloud-Based EHR Potential Life Saver for Independent Physicians

September 3, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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A cloud-based electronic health record (EHR) with integrated revenue cycle management (RCM) capability could be the life jacket that independent physicians are looking for, if they want to maintain independence, a new survey reveals.

The survey, from the Clearwater, Fla.-based Black Book Market Research, looked at the attitudes of more than 8,000 CFOs, CIOs, administrators, and support staff of hospitals and physician practices and found that 97 percent say that a seamless RCM/EHR/practice management (PM) system, in the cloud, would ensure long term practice independence. Nine out of ten independent physicians wanted to maintain independence from hospital or larger group practice acquisition.

“Profit challenges have forced the number of practices actively seeking acquisition to more than to triple until recently, as cloud EHRs with RCM innovations have given independents new hope," Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book Market Research, said in a statement.  

The desire for this integration comes at a time when most physician practices (72 percent) anticipate declining-to-negative profitability in 2014 due to diminishing reimbursements and underutilized or inefficient billing and records technology. The majority (88 percent) fear without an upgraded, integrated EHR/RCM product, they’ll be forced to sell the entire practice operation to a larger physician group or hospital within 12 months or face practice dissolution.

Most physician practices (87 percent) say their billing and collections systems/processes need upgrading and 42 percent considered an upgrade of their RCM software within 6 -12 months. The single-source integrated solution is gaining popularity. Eighty-nine percent of those physicians currently replacing their EHRs are seeking a seamless single source vendor, and prefer vendors that offer software, outsourcing and consulting options in their EHR/RCM/PM transformation.

"As evidenced by the growing number of meaningful use failures and immature EHR systems dropping off the competitive market, far too many EHR’s falsely claimed to integrate seamlessly into practice and revenue cycle management systems," Brown says. "Fewer systems had evidence of seamless integration across revenue cycle management, clinical communications and analytics solutions."

Black Book ranked the vendors who are currently integrating these areas at once, with the Irvine, Calif.-based Kareo, Inc., heading that list.

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