Top 5 EHR Trends for 2016

Guest post by Cathy Reisenwitz, content specialist, Capterra.

Cathy Reisenwitz
Cathy Reisenwitz

Every year at Capterra we predict the top trends in business technology. Last year we predicted gamification, wearables, telemedicine, mobile medicine, and 3D printing would be the top 5 medical technology trends for 2015.

This year, we expect wearables, telemedicine, and mobile medicine to continue to advance. They’ll be joined by cloud computing, patient portals, and big data.

Here are the top 5 EHR trends for 2016:

  1. Telemedicine plus wearables plus EHR

Telemedicine has come a long way, from remote villagers using bicycle pedal-powered, two-way radios to communicate with the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia to helping recovering stroke patients in rural Minnesota avoid hours-long (and often snowy) drives for follow-up care.

As the technology has improved, the investment has increased. Transparency Market Research valued the global video telemedicine market at $559 million in 2013. Today, they predict it will grow to $1.6 billion by the end of 2020. Walgreens, the largest U.S. drugstore chain, and telehealth provider MDLive recently expanded their virtual care collaboration to 20 more states in November, bringing the total to 25.

Telemedicine offers tons of value to a large, growing segment of the population: seniors. Telemedicine improves care by getting it to remote patients who live far from hospitals. It also enables homebound patients to get high-quality care. It makes care cheaper, and allows seniors to stay at home longer. It benefits providers by making their jobs more flexible. And it also eliminates picking up new illnesses in a clinical care setting.

In rural Minnesota, nurses check motor skills by asking patients to push, pull and squeeze with their hands and feet. A doctor, located further away from patients, can advise on care onscreen.

Going back to wearables, their mass adoption has made store-and-forward telemedicine much easier. Devices like Fitbits automatically collect valuable health data. Store-and-forward telemedicine just means that data goes to a doctor or medical specialist so they can assess it when they have time. Watch for more EHRs learning to connect with wearables in 2016.

  1. More EHRs will provide patient portals

Patient portals grew in popularity in 2014 and 2015. Twenty-six percent more patients received lab tests via an EHR patient portal between 2013 and 2014. Patients also received 50% more health and disease education through their portals in that time. “Patient engagement through health technology such as patient portals is rapidly increasing,” Craig Kemp, leader of innovative partnerships for Merck Vaccines, told

While about half of physicians offer patient portals right now, almost another fifth of them plan to offer one in the next 12 months. In a 2015 survey of more than 11,000 patients, 237 physicians, and nine payer organizations representing 47 million lives, almost a third of patients said they were interested in using a patient portal to engage with their physician, track their medical history, and receive educational materials and patient support. However, almost 40 percent said they’d never heard of a patient portal.

Educating patients on how and why to use portals will be key to getting them to use them in 2016.

  1. More EHRs will go mobile

A 2014 Software Advice survey showed that users are desperate for mobile access to their EHR. Clinical staff wants to able to be productive in and out of the office. In a 2013 survey by Black Book Ranking, 89 percent of physicians reported using smartphones and tablets to communicate with staff.

Most EHR users (58 percent) who can use their EHR on their tablet or smartphone reported being “very satisfied” with their software. Only 28 percent of users who couldn’t felt the same way. Demand is there. It’s inevitable that EHRs will become more mobile-friendly, and that will blast telemedicine forward. With more EHR software moving to the cloud, mobile access is easier than ever. Yet vendors are lagging. One-third of providers were using an EHR that wasn’t mobile-optimized in 2014, according to an Epocrates Mobile Trends report.

More EHR vendors will start offering mobile access to schedules, patient charts, and prescribing functionality in 2016.

  1. Security will continue to be a major concern

On average, a data breach costs organizations $3.8 million, up 23 percent from 2013, according to Healthcare Dive. Even though most providers aren’t letting security concerns keep EHRs in the stone age on local servers and off our phones, security is still a major concern. The healthcare industry is the most expensive industry for a breach, with a worldwide per-capita cost of a stolen record of $363. And unlike other industries, 49 percent of breaches in the U.S. result from criminal attacks rather than human errors or a system glitches.

An incident response team can help mediate the cost of a breach. Assembling one could create over $12 in per-capita savings, according to one study. Encryption, employee training, BCM involvement, a CISO appointment, board-level involvement, and insurance protection are also medical data security best practices which can decrease the likelihood of a data breach.

  1. More EHRs are moving to the cloud

We have 366 options listed in our EMR directory (we like to be thorough!). Filtering out those that are installed or on premises leaves 167 vendors of web-based software.

We definitely expect that number to grow in 2016. When you invest in a cloud-based EHR, implementation costs go to near-zero, versus $40,000 to set up an on-premise EHR. And maintenance costs are included in the monthly price. Like telemedicine, the benefits are myriad. Cloud-based software means you can access records from outside the office. It makes mobile access possible. It makes transferring records a snap. And it makes updating software seamless for providers.


Last year we did pretty well predicting the future. Gamification in medicine certainly advanced in 2015. A South Carolina university is using $1 million from the NIH to find out whether digital reminders can improve compliance among kidney transplant patients. This year a proposal for an app that gamifies smoking cessation came out of Imperial College Business School in the UK. And in 2015 3D printing transformed impacted custom prosthetics, surgical implants, and bioprinted tissue. In 2016 expect to see more 3D printed drugs.

Which EHR trends are you most excited about in 2016? And what trends did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

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