Almost 2 years ago, one EHR vendor decided to not go after meaningful use stage 2. At the time I wrote about how that EHR vendor should have used that decision as an extraordinary marketing opportunity for their EHR. They could argue that they were focused on the doctor’s needs and not on government regulation. It was the perfect marketing opportunity which I believe they botched.
That EHR vendor was ComChart EHR. Botched marketing opportunity or not, the ComChart website has been updated to inform ComChart users that the ComChart EHR was no longer available for sale to the public. A letter then follows which outlines that the President of ComChart, Hayward Zwerling, M.D., will continue to use the ComChart EHR in his practice until he retires and will provide updates he does for his practice to others who already have the software. ComChart also has a read-only license option for those doctor who choose to leave ComChart, but still want access to their old records. This method of shutting down an EHR stands in stark contrast to other EHR shutdowns that no doubt left doctors high and dry.
At the end of the letter, Dr. Zwerling argues that more technology is not going to solve healthcare’s cost and quality problems. I agree completely. It’s not about more technology. Technology in and of itself doesn’t solve anything. It’s a tool in the toolbox. It’s certainly not the solution to all of healthcare’s ills.
Here’s the full letter from the ComChart website:
Dear ComChart Users;
I want to thank you for your years of support and encouragement. Some of you have been using ComChart EMR for more than 15 years. You have provided me with the encouragement, ideas and support which I needed to create the best EMR for the small medical practice. I am not bragging; ComChart EMR has literally had the highest KLAS rating from 2006 – 2012. In the 2012 ranking, ComChart EMR again had the highest overall score (92.9) and the highest Product Quality Rating (8.4) in the Ambulatory 1-10 Provider category.
Unfortunately, my experience with the recent ComChart EMR upgrade has convinced me that I should stop selling ComChart EMR as more than half of the offices have had upgrade problems.
I believe the technology underlying ComChart EMR has gotten too complicated for smaller offices and the “upgrade” process is too slow for larger offices. In addition, I am not in complete control of the IT situation, I am reliant on Filemaker, Inc and the plugin makers and other HIT vendors and the faxing program companies as well as OS updates – all of these vendors create problems that I have to “solve” and which are beyond my ability to control.
I intend to continue using ComChart EMR in my office until I retire, or I am forced by external factors to give up ComChart EMR. I believe I have another decade in practice. I will continue to develop ComChart EMR for my practice and make these upgrades available to you should you choose to continue to use ComChart EMR. I will continue to support your practices as I have done to date.
If you decide you are not going to continue using ComChart EMR, I would recommend that you purchase a “read-only license”. That will allow you to continue to access your records, read your records, print out the records, for as long as you need them. The read-only license comes with no technical support. Because of this, you need to be careful about changing operating systems on the computer that is running your read-only version of ComChart EMR.
As some of you know, I’ve blogged about health information technology in the past. Although I am a firm believer that health information technology helps me run a more efficient practice, there is a scarcity of data demonstrating that health information technology improves the quality of health or reduces the cost of healthcare at the societal level. Despite this lack of data, the Federal Government has felt it appropriate to apply financial penalties to physicians who do not use the health information technology software specified by the Federal Government and in the manner mandated by the Federal Government. To a large extend, this problem has occurred because the large EMR/EHR vendors now have undue influence over the Federal Government’s HIT initiative.
I have periodically blogged on the topic of evidence-based medicine as it applies to health information technology. Unfortunately, my comments have fallen on deaf ears.
Personally I am convinced that the solution to the healthcare cost and quality problem does not lie in the application of more/better health information technology. While the data would suggest that health information technology can have a marginal impact on the quality of care, and maybe even on the cost of care, it is not THE solution to a health care cost/quality problem. Politicians should stop listening to the IT geeks and the larger EMR vendors and begin to look at the published data about the efficacy of Certfied EMRs/EHR and Meaningful Use and start listening to the practicing physicians. Believing that more health information technology will solve the healthcare problem will only delay the process of finding a real solution to a very large problem.
I wish my users all the best, and I really appreciate the support you have given me over the years. If you have any questions, feel free to call me on my cell phone or email me, anytime, as you have done in the past.
Hayward Zwerling, M.D.
President ComChart Medical Software