The fastest sales growth and heaviest competition in the EMR market is in products sold to physicians, particularly tools sold over the internet, according to healthcare market research firm Kalorama Information.
Sales of EMR systems to physicians grew at an estimated 22 percent in 2011 versus 2010, higher than the growth of EMR sales to hospital systems, according to the company.
"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 were made between January 2011 and the end of December 2011.
According to Kalorama, there are large competitors who sell to physician offices including GE Healthcare, Cerner, Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, Epic and McKesson. These firms compete along with EMR specialists such as eClinicalWorks, E-MD, NextGen and Practice Fusion. Many of them 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,” concluded Carlson. “It’s likely that a new entrant would need to find a niche or better address useability issues.”