Can An EMR Focus on Patient Care in the Current Reimbursement Environment?

Posted on March 6, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In response to a discussion I was part of on LinkedIn, Hirdey Bhathal, CEO of Zibdy Health, offered these interesting comments:

In your comment above you say “Doctor’s are eager to improve revenue”, “clinically based reimbursement” and “emphasizing the clinical documentation that needs to be the base line for billing”….Given that how can a EMR even try to focus on patient care? Two workflows are very different and probably mutually exclusive or very difficult to bring together with any degree of success. In a situation like that a new vendor like practice fusion or any other will be forced to comply with revenue needs otherwise no provider will adopt them. This is the first feature any EMR company sells.

Are quality patient care and quality reimbursement mutually exclusive in an EHR?

I think it’s a bit much to say that they are mutually exclusive. I think you can have both. However, I think that very few EHR vendors have both right now. Hirdey is absolutely right that no doctor would buy an EHR if they didn’t take care of the revenue needs of a practice. That is the first feature that most doctors look for when looking at EHR software.

As in most parts of life, you get what you pay for. Doctors are willing to pay for something that will increase their revenue. That’s why the EHR incentives worked so good (even if it’s fuzzy math). They saw some government money and so they adopted EHR to go after the money. I can’t remember someone ever asking if the EHR would make them more effective clinicians. I can’t remember them asking if the EHR would help them provide better patient care.

It’s kind of sad thing that are reimbursement system is so disconnected from the quality of care a doctor provides. The good news is that now that reimbursement is tackled and meaningful use is tackled, I have hope that EHR vendors will start to differentiate themselves from other EHR vendors based on their clinical abilities.

What do you think? Are we heading for a new era of EHR that’s more focused on clinical and patient outcomes and less on maximizing reimbursement? Or at least that we’ll see both?