Growth in EMR sales to docs expected online

By Bernie Monegain
10:31 AM

The fastest sales growth and heaviest competition in the EMR market is in products sold to physicians, particularly solutions sold over the Internet, according to healthcare market research publisher Kalorama Information.

Sales of electronic medical record systems to physicians grew at an estimate 22 percent in 2011 versus 2010, higher than the growth of EMR sales to hospital systems. Kalorama recently completed an annual report on the market, "EMR 2012: The Market for Electronic Medical Records," which found increasing physician acceptance and sales results.

"The physician segment will likely drive growth and it's the part of the market where new entrants can realistically stake a claim," said Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information. "It takes infrastructure and legacy relationships to support hospital conversion."

The revenue growth occurs at the same time as increased physician usage.
Statistics from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) indicate that 56.9 percent of office-based physicians used partial or full EMR systems in 2011, an increase from 2010. More than $1.3 billion in Medicare EHR Incentive Program payments were made between May 2011 and the end of December 2011, and more than $1.1 billion in Medicaid EHR Incentive Program payments have been made between January 2011 and the end of December 2011. Incentives have played a role in convincing doctors to convert to electronic documentation, Kalorama researchers note.

There are large competitors who sell to physician offices, according to Kalorama information, including GE Healthcare, Cerner, Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, Epic, and McKesson. These firms compete along with EMR specialists such as eClinicalWorks, e-MDs, NextGen and Practice Fusion. Many of these companies have already established a presence and recognition, if not domination of the market.

"Some of these smaller companies have been branding for years and dominating Google searches, so even in the physician and web-based EMR market there will be some challenge for startups to launch," said Carlson. "It's likely that a new entrant would need to find a niche or better address usability issues."

In its full report, "EMR 2012: The Market for Electronic Medical Records," Kalorama Information breaks out the market for large hospital EMR sales, as well as for physician and web-based sales. It also profiles large and medium-sized players in the market, and offers market share and important trends that could change growth estimates.