Should Hospitals Still Give Physicians An EMR?

Posted on March 11, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

A while ago — I want to say maybe three years or so — we heard a great deal about hospitals and health systems beginning to push out EMR capabilities to affiliated medical practices.  Some were giving out software outright,  others were subsidizing physician systems, but in either case the idea was to force through EMR adoption.

It was a difficult process. This was back in the good old days before ARRA, HITECH or Meaningful Use,  of course, so hospitals were pretty much on their own in figuring out what kind of technical and financial relationships worked out best.  And they had to wait a while on HHS and the IRS, both of which had to reassure them that these deals were legally kosher.

Still, many soldiered on and invested big bucks to get their key doctors wired. (For an example, see this deal, in which a New York-area health system announced that it would spend $400 million to connect 7,000 physicians to a single EMR.)

Today, of course, with federal incentives in place, and the threat of financial punishment to come, the EMR landscape is different for both doctors and hospitals.

Like it or not, doctors are facing up to the reality that EMRs will soon become a standard part of running a medical practice.   Hospitals, meanwhile, are just beginning to realize just how ginormous their EMR expenses are going to be (usually, many times what they’d originally calculated).  Bottom line:  doctors have more reasons to move and hospitals less resources to hand out.

That being said, what’s a health system to do these days if despite all, local physicians are reeaallly reluctant to adopt EMRs within their practice?

Does it still make sense for hospitals and health systems to give out EMR software/access or help pay for physician EMR investments?  If so, when, and why? What do you think?