According to a survey by SK&A, solo physician practices' adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) increased in 2013. The survey asked 270,036 medical sites by telephone about their EHRs and was conducted as part of a contract with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to track EHR adoption and use rates.

The survey found EHR adoption overall grew from 50.3 percent to 61 percent in 2014. It found the greatest increase among single physician practices, where adoption rates rose from 42.3 to 53.7 percent, an increase of 11.4 percent.

The senior director of marketing for SK&A, Jack Schember, said this increase was due to "the availability of more than 450 different solutions to fit their practice needs, size and budget."

The survey also determined the specialties with the highest rates of EHR adoption, which are dialysis, internal medicine and pediatrics, nephrology and pathology. It also found the states with the highest EHR adoption rates are Utah, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa and North Dakota.

"The healthcare IT community responded well to the opportunity presented by the EHR adoption incentives offered through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by providing a variety of options to physicians with relatively easy implementation and training support," Schember said in a release. "Physicians also realize they have a limited window of opportunity to take advantage of federal reimbursements by showing 'meaningful use' of digital record-keeping technology."

Making EHR adoption happen at any practice
This release from SK&A shows even the smallest of practices can see the appeal of EHRs, and can afford to adopt them. Despite the wide variety of EHR systems available at various price points, some practices may worry about whether there is room in their budget for EHR adoption. This can be a significant barrier, and will be more of a disadvantage as time goes on and more competing practices are keeping their records digitally. Attracting patients can also be harder without an EHR patient portal that will allow them to manage their own records to some degree, particularly as this becomes a more common way to interact with one's own care.

Working with a revenue cycle management company may help practices afford to adopt EHRs. These specialized medical billing and coding firms are able to obtain the highest possible levels of reimbursement from payers, in turn helping a practice's bottom line. That boost may be all a practice needs to enter the modern world of health care and adopt an EHR that suits it.