EMR market is growing at 6% annually, now topping $31 billion

Business opportunities expand, include selling healthcare data to researchers


The business of digitizing patient records for billing, practice management and (sometimes) better patient care is important to the life sciences industry because prescription choices flow out of the data and represent an important touchpoint for drug marketers. According to a just-released report from Kalorama Information, electronic medical records (EMR; a synonymous term is electronic health records, or EHR) was worth around $31 billion in 2018, and is projected to grow at 6% annually for the next few years.

Kalorama, focusing on revenue measures, counts Cerner as the No. 1 EMR provider, with Epic Systems as No. 2. However, based on numbers of users, SK&A Information, in a 2018 report, tags Epic as No. 1, with 14.4% of physicians on that platform, while Cerner is No. 7, with 4.23% of physicians. Other leading vendors include Allscripts (which acquired competitors Practice Fusion last year and a pair of McKesson offerings the year before that), eClinicalWorks, athenahealthcare and NextGen Healthcare. Nevertheless, the market remains highly extremely fragmented, with somewhere between 500 and 700 players.

In earlier years, much of the interaction between EMR vendors and the pharma industry focused on pharma’s ability to have some type of promotional activity showing up within the workflow of using the EMR—providing a banner on a particular drug, for example, when a disease condition is specified. While that activity is still present in some EMR systems, related activities now focus on the EMR vendor collecting data that can be marketed to pharma (i.e., prescriber habits, or outcomes-related data) or connecting the e-prescribing function with copay and formulary data that would be available to the patient. OptimizeRx, for example, connects with EMR systems to present copay coupons and similar information; Asembia, a hub services provider with a network of pharmacies it connects with, provides a similar service, but at the point of dispensing.

Kalorama’s report, EMR 2019: The Market for Electronic Medical Records, is available for purchase from the company.