According to research report the global ambulatory EHR market is projected to reach USD 7.7 billion by 2027 from an estimated USD 5.7 billion in 2022, at a CAGR of 6.1% during the forecast period. Growth in this market is primarily driven by the growing demand for HCIT solutions, the rising number of outpatient facilities, rising funding-related initiatives by the government.
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Drivers: Government support for the adoption of EHR solutions
The HCIT industry is one of the fastest-growing industries, which benefits largely from government regulations. EHRs are a central component of HCIT wherein ambulatory EHRs are the digital version of outpatient medical history that store data consisting of patient demographics, progress notes, medications, treatment plans, vital signs, past medical history, immunizations, laboratory data, and radiology reports. Ambulatory EHRs facilitate easy exchange of healthcare information and communication among healthcare providers.
In the present healthcare scenario, the decision to adopt EHRs is greatly affected by incentives and payment adjustments. For instance, the HITECH Act, implemented by the US government in 2009, intended to accelerate the adoption and use of healthcare IT. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was authorized to provide financial incentives to eligible ambulatory care centers, critical access ambulatory care centers (CAHs), and eligible professionals with certified EHR technologies to improve patient care.
The US government provides various incentives to healthcare providers to implement IT infrastructure across their facilities. The HITECH incentives provided eligible professionals nearly USD 44,000–USD 63,000, while eligible hospitals received nearly USD 2–9 million between 2011 and 2018. Such initiatives are currently driving and will continue to drive the demand for ambulatory EHRs.
Restraints: Heavy infrastructure investments and high cost of deployment
Most healthcare providers do not have the required infrastructure (technology, data, and other resources) for the management of complex healthcare cases. Providers are required to invest heavily in infrastructural development to implement ambulatory EHR solutions successfully. Finding the required investments poses a serious challenge to the already-strained financial resources of healthcare providers. Further, the to maintain the digital infrastructure will incur additional investments. Hence, maintenance costs also poses a challenge for the healthcare providers.
Moreover, ambulatory EHR solutions are relatively high-priced software solutions. The maintenance and software update costs of these systems may sometimes be more than the actual price of the software. This recurring expenditure may amount to almost 30% of the total cost of ownership. Moreover, the lack of internal IT expertise in the healthcare industry necessitates training for end users to maximize the efficiency of various HCIT solutions, thereby adding to the cost of ownership of these systems. Hence, factors like budgetary constraints for implementation of ambulatory EHR solutions and the cost for training and maintenance act as a limitation and is expected to restrain the market growth to certain extent.
Opportunities: Shift towards patient-cantered healthcare delivery
New communication technologies support the transition of healthcare delivery from a physician-driven model to a patient-centric care model wherein the entire healthcare system revolves around the patient for virtual meetings, test results, and other health records through electronic modes of communication. HCIT solutions enable patients and healthcare professionals to access relevant health information. The shift towards patient-centric care, coupled with the rising digitization of products and services, enables remote recording and remote sharing of medical records. Owing to the several benefits of patient-centric solutions, their utilization for remote monitoring, consultation, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention is expected to increase in the coming years thereby leading to the increasing adoption of ambulatory EHR solutions.
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Challenges: Data Security Concerns
Creating a safe and secure communication platform is a major challenge faced by IT vendors catering to the healthcare industry including the ambulatory EHR software vendors. Approximately one-third of data breaches result in medical identity theft in the healthcare industry, due to poor internal control over patient information, outdated policies and procedures and inadequate personnel training. The HIPAA Journal recorded 712 healthcare data breaches in its 2021 breach list in the US, an increase of 10.9% over the total number of breaches tracked in 2020. In 2020, HIPAA-covered companies and business associates paid around USD 13.6 million for HIPAA violations and around USD 15.3 million in 2019. Therefore, security concerns related to healthcare IT systems may lead to a rise in the sense of insecurity among users and, hence, restrain their adoption until secure HCIT solutions are available.
Mr. Aashish Mehra
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