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Finding an EMR Job Champion

Posted on December 14, 2011 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

Earlier this year I had the good fortune (and the support of my employer) to join the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), an organization that offers interest groups for every possible IT niche you can think of. I’ve attended a few of their health society events, and at every one I’m confronted with statistics and anecdotes surrounding the dearth of qualified healthcare IT professionals in the city and surrounding areas. Much attention at these events is also given to the fact that these professionals are needed now more than ever to help smaller physician practices and larger healthcare systems demonstrate Meaningful Use and achieve associated electronic medical record (EMR) adoption goals.

I’ve commented before on the disconnect between the increasing number of healthcare IT educational opportunities being created by the government and vendors’ willingness (or unwillingness, as the case may be) to hire fresh grads. EJ Fechenda of HIMSS JobMine posed a question related to this conundrum better than I ever could have: “With federal deadlines looming, healthcare organizations need to get moving and there are a lot of job seekers out there ready for the challenge. Are there organizations or companies willing to extend opportunities to these candidates? Is there a training or job-shadowing program that can be used as a best practice for other organizations to implement? Who are the champions already doing this or willing to lead the charge?”

I may have found a champion in Rich Wicker, HIMS Director at Shore Memorial Hospital in New Jersey. Wicker is also an adjunct professor at two HITECH-affiliated community colleges, teaching students who already have strong backgrounds in healthcare or IT the basics of process, analysis, redesign, installation and ongoing maintenance to prepare them for second careers in physician office EMR implementations.

He certainly seems to have a passion for the subject. “I’m devoted to the EMR,” he told me during a recent phone interview. “That’s why I started teaching, really, because I want to see that [adoption] happen so badly.”

He tells me his students are guardedly optimistic about their future job opportunities, which he believes will surge this summer alongside an expected increase in physician adoption of EMRs – six months before the deadline to qualify for Meaningful Use incentives.

As we discussed the state of the HIT job market, we both wondered if what type of organization might have a greater role to play in ensuring that graduate from programs like Wicker’s find jobs.

“We had to really battle our way to get one [software] copy from one EMR vendor,” he explains. “I wish they were more amenable to providing educational software/packages like Apple does throughout all their PCs. I know a few different schools have joined with a vendor. One place I know of is showing Vista, another is showing eClinicalWorks, and another partnered with a local hospital that happens to use Sage.

“I have a relatively limited view, but from what I can see, the vendors are not really engaged with the HITECH student development program. I think they’d probably rather do it themselves.”

“Here’s an idea that I came up with,” he adds. “I’ll throw out the RECs (Regional Extension Centers). That’s another entity that’s funded – it’s kind of their job to get the docs to convert. If they could partner with the colleges and the graduates to possibly divert some of their funding to supplementing the graduates’ income while they worked at a physician practice … So the physician, let’s say, for $5 an hour, they could hire a qualified, certified person. These people are pretty good, too. They know what it is to work. They’ve probably worked 10 or 20 years already, either in IT or in healthcare. So they’re mature employees and highly motivated. They would be great to go in and do a 6-month installation. I think it would be great for the physician if, for $5 an hour, you get somebody that would probably cost you $30 an hour somewhere else.

“Let’s say the student can get another $10 an hour supplemented from the REC or somehow through the government. So they get $15 an hour to go in there … they get four or five months of experience doing an installation and then the physician can make a decision … maybe they ultimately hire the person. That’s just a crazy idea that I had that seemed like the pieces are out there that kind of potentially could work. I sent it into the ONC a couple of days ago.”

Could the RECs have a bigger role to play in ensuring that HITECH graduates gain on-the-job experience and employment? I’d love to hear from any readers out there who may work for or with RECs . Is Wicker’s idea doable? Have we found our champion?

Pediatrics Face Unique Set of EMR Challenges

Posted on October 26, 2011 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

My recent blog about Sandhills Pediatrics and its successful implementation of an EMR prompted, fortunately, a very intriguing comment from Chip Hart, a Director of Sales and Marketing at Physicians’ Computer Company who also maintains the blog “Confessions of a Pediatric Practice Consultant: True Stories from the land of Pediatric Practice Management.” He wrote: “I’ll spare everyone the diatribe about how ARRA deals with pediatricians and how only about 1/2 of them qualify, as I write to make one quick statement.” There’s a story there, I thought to myself. So, being an avid observer of pediatric EMR news and views, I reached out to him to gauge his thoughts on where healthcare IT solutions fit in the world of pediatricians.

What sort of challenges are you seeing pediatric practices facing when it comes to implementing EMR systems?
“On one hand, most of the challenges they face are hardly unique to pediatrics: resistance to change, practice differences, the lack of time and resources to be trained and configured properly, poor support, etc.

“Specific to pediatrics, there are two major issues.  First, children are not simply small adults and EMRs, as a rule, are written for adult medicine. There are many pediatric-specific features and functionality that a pediatric practice needs that simply aren’t met by your large, generic system. Simply claiming “pediatric templates” isn’t enough.

“Second, although every specialty complains about the hit that EMRs take on their productivity, pediatricians are obviously in the worst shape. Their volume is the highest and their payment is the lowest. Just adding a minute to each encounter means an extra 30 minutes of charting a day … and I hear stories, daily, of practices adding another 1 to 2 hours! Pediatricians can’t afford to see 5-percent fewer patients. Radiologists can. And pediatricians really like to eat dinner with their families.

“One second-tier issue is that less than 50 percent of all pediatric practices don’t qualify for ARRA and the regional extension centers (RECs), as a rule, don’t understand the Medicaid rules well.  Thus, we have clients and potential clients calling us to ask how they can get money they’ll never get, or to tell us some crazy thing a REC person told them.”

Are there different sets of challenges for those that are private practices versus those that are hospital/healthcare system affiliated?
“Unquestionably – the big one being that hospital/health system pediatricians simply won’t have a choice or even a voice in the process. Yes, I’ve worked with some who appear to be at the table, but in the end … you get what they hand you. Right now, Epic is pushing everyone out but that pendulum will swing back.

Also, those employed physicians don’t have to consider the impact on their productivity in the same way. I’ve met too many peds offices whose docs didn’t take home checks for a few months after implementation – that’s not right.”

Why do you think practices like Sandhills “get it” in terms of moving forward with HIT implementations, and just being forward thinkers in general?
“If I could answer that question, I’d only be working with those practices! Every successful practice I know is successful in a different way for different reasons, but there is one common trait I see in many of them: They run their practices like the businesses they are. Keep the docs in the exam rooms, where they can generate revenue, and hire professionals to actually run the business. Just because it says “MD” after your name doesn’t mean you’re the best-qualified person to run your office. Would Dirk Nowitski or Lebron James make good coaches? I doubt it.

“In the case of Sandhills, they have some excellent, excellent staff who bring some non-healthcare experience to the table. Although I’ve seen it fail, having some management that comes from outside the healthcare system to ask and answer some tough questions pays off for a lot of practices.

“We’ve enjoyed working with them.  I should also add that they, like the other ‘heads up’ clients I know, realize that we’re on the same team. That helps tremendously.”

How long have you offered the PCC EMR? What sort of up tick in implementations have you seen since ARRA/HITECH came about?
“Our PM has had pediatric clinical features (immunization tracking, registry interfaces, well visit recall, etc.) for almost 30 years, but the official EMR itself was released about 2 years ago.

“When ARRA was first announced, we received a lot of calls, all along the lines of, “Where do I get my free money?”  It was very frustrating to explain that it would be state dependent (about a quarter of them still can’t get it) and half of our clients will never qualify due to the Medicaid requirements.

“Things are starting to settle down and get organized.  Still, we are busier right now than we have ever been. We are telling potential clients they might get installed in May or June. A nice problem to have, but it’s not fun to get some excited only to explain it will be 6 months, especially when it used to be 6 weeks!”

Are any of your pediatric clients thinking of becoming involved in ACOs?
“Thinking?  Yes.  They’re all being told how if they don’t get big, they’ll be out of business, which is utter BS. The rules, as we know them now, seem to make no sense whatsoever for pediatricians. I did see a compelling presentation by Colleen Kraft at the AAP NCE last week that very much supported the ACO-esque model she employs, but I think her situation is both unique and not potentially an ACO.

“With some issues – 5010, PCMH, etc. – we take a pro-active stance. With ACOs, I’m glad to let someone else jump first.”

How will your solutions enable your customers to integrate with ACOs or coordinated care programs?
“Far too soon to tell.  In general, I can say, “Hey, we have had really good reports that have tracked patient populations for years.”  Our clients use them all the time, as it’s both good medicine and good business.  As a practical tool, I’d put our patient recall program up against anyone’s – your front desk can crank out a list of kids who need flu shots or asthma followups in seconds – but we don’t know quite what the ACOs will need.

“One thing we’ve learned, though: when a small peds office puts its data in the hands of a large entity, it’s worth double-checking the results. For more than 20 years, I’ve helped our clients fight insurance companies (which an ACO emulates) and the insurance companies never have the data right. Ever. So if a private peds office can work with us and still be in an ACO, they’ll be able to confirm the accounting.

“Here’s my prediction: As ACOs grow, the practices who participate are going to regret losing control of their data. I’m really going out on a limb there, I know.

What do you think is the greatest challenge being faced by pediatrics when it comes to keeping up with healthcare IT?
“Not getting run over by the Juggernaut.  Everyone else’s demands are put ahead of the pediatricians and the peds usually get served what everyone else is eating.  And it rarely suits them.

“I also tell them all the time: ignore the Meaningful Use money. Completely. And ignore the “deal” that you can get from your local hospital/IPA/etc. Pick the EHR that suits you the most and go with that. All the discounts or federal checks in the world won’t make up for even a 5-percent hit in your productivity or having to spend an extra 10-20 hours a month on charting or IT work. If you do like the local deal, great!  But don’t feel like you have to leap in.”

So there you have it folks. I’d be interested to hear from a pediatrician or two who has gone through or is going through some sort of HIT implementation as a follow-up to these views. Feel free to get in touch with me via the comments section below.

Free EMR – A Boon for Small Practices?

Posted on September 12, 2011 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

I was talking to a physician friend during the week, and getting his take on EMR implementation. He would dearly like to implement an EMR in his practice. However, the major roadblocks he’s experiencing are in terms of costs. The quotes he has received for EMR implementation runs close to 80K. If he bills patients 500K a year, if he does not implement an EMR solution at all, the differential on the Medicare rebates in the first year would be 1 percent of $500,000, which is $5000, which is a number he says he can live with. If he implements an EMR, his two physician practi ce stands to make $88,000 from Medicare (they don’t see many Medicaid patients). In other words, if he spends 80K for his practice, or shells out 40K personally, he stands to gain $44,000. If on the other hand, he maintains status quo, he loses just $5000. Given the pain of choosing an EMR and EMR implementation, he’s probably better off doing nothing, he believes. And let’s not forget, it’ll be live people working with an EMR system, and productivity will actually take a hit before rising slowly back to pre-EMR levels, as this Feb post by Robert Rowley on Practice Fusion’s blog shows.

In other words, there are monetary incentives but sometimes just don’t make real-world sense.

This same math would look a lot different in a multi-physician practice. The same EMR implementation cost would be spread over a larger base, and more of the incentive money would actually reach the physician.

Which brings us to Practice Fusion. On this blog and elsewhere, Practice Fusion has got a lot of press (Full Disclosure: Practice Fusion is an advertiser on this site), not all of it positive.  Not being a medical practitioner, and never having used any EMR personally, my idea of how Practice Fusion stacks up functionally against other EMRs is pretty much second-hand info gleaned from reviews (John had a recent post on Black Book rankings. It’s interesting to me that Practice Fusion shows up in only the 1-Physician Practice rankings among the top 20.) There are those that caution the model of free. There’s also some debate whether a one-size-fits-all approach will benefit every kind of practice. But just based on its economic model, Practice Fusion is a system I would at least recommend my friend look into.

EHR Incentive Money Congressional Authorization versus Appropriation – Will EHR Incentive Money Disappear?

Posted on July 5, 2011 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.

I’ve been having a number of discussions online and through email with people about the future of the EHR incentive money. A number of people are quite concerned with the government funding for the EHR incentive money. You may remember that I posted about this before on multiple occasions and had some really interesting discussion.

Here’s a summary of some of the points that I’ve heard people making when it comes to the EHR incentive money being taken away:

1-There is a crucial difference between the two steps required for Congressional funding, a-authorization and b-appropriations. Congress can authorize, but cannot appropriate for 5 yrs. This applies to the EHR stimulus money. Thus the 5 year EHR payment has been authorized, but no EHR funds have been, nor can they be, appropriated for 5 years, right?

2-There is $18k this year for doctor Medicare EHR. But not the remaining $26k over 5 years has not been apropriated (same applies to hospitals funds).

3-The budget deficit and debt ceiling suggest Congress will be looking now and in the future for cutting every dime they can,
and thus the $20B or so for EHR could be part of the cut. Thus there may be reduced EHR funds, or none, appropriated by Congress after this year.

I still believe in my gut that the EHR incentive money is going to be safe and still around going forward. There’s little benefit to cutting a mere $20 billion from a program that is generally bi-partisan. Plus, no one in congress really knows the potential good or bad impacts of the HITECH act on EHR and healthcare IT. However, it’s really easy for them to quickly assume that more technology in healthcare is good and worth funding (whether the way they’re doing it is good or not…a subject for a different post).

It’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibilities that the government could make some sweeping cuts and the EHR incentive money is a casualty of those sweeping no holds bars type cuts. Point being that I don’t think there are any people in congress that are passionately for it or passionately against it. So, I think that means that it will likely either get carried forward on a whim or cast aside on a whim.

How’s that for a concrete answer? Are there points that I’m missing? Are we misunderstanding the HITECH funding process? Feel free to chime in with any knowledge you might have of the government process.

Guest Post: The Meaningful Use Clock is Ticking

Posted on March 8, 2011 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.

John’s Note: Much of this post will be child’s play for those of you reading the blog that are steeped in meaningful use, the HITECH act, EHR Certification, and the EHR stimulus money. However, I thought this guest post was a nice intro to the EHR stimulus money for a doctor or practice manager which was starting to learn. I’m all about helping doctors, so here it is.

90 days of data collection. This is what is required for year one meaningful use. This means by October 1 you better be collecting data…and hopefully you didn’t just start on October 1…that would be playing with fire.

What really is the purpose of Meaningful Use? In the grand scheme of things, the CMS wants to make sure that a practice hasn’t bundled together a spreadsheet and word processor, call it an EHR, and then try to claim a big reimbursement. So, sure, it makes sense that the CMS would have some requirements for your EHR.

As is the situation anytime you try and get money from the government, the list of requirements is lengthy, the red tape is plentiful and the maze continues to get more complex.

So is the case when “proving” meaningful use. Hopefully you aren’t of the idea that buying a Meaningful Use certified EHR makes you a Meaningful User.

Having an EHR with that “certification” stamped on the box is not like an Easy Button.

Selecting that EHR is the first big hurdle you have to conquer…now you have to show you are a Meaningful User.

The items of proof are shown here in this CMS summary [PDF]. What you’ll see is there are 15 Core Objectives you must be able to report on.

That shiny new EHR should have all of these reports built right in. You better try pulling some of those reports to make sure there is some data in them.

So, those 15 mandatory Core Objectives are already selected for you. Next, there are five more you must select from a gallery of ten.

Which objectives should you choose? Wait for it…IT DEPENDS.

Such the non-answer answer.

It does depend on a number of items, but really which five would you choose?

The easiest to gather? DING DING!

Why not?

Why make this craziness any more difficult than it needs to be.

We’ll go over the Menu Set Objectives, and which ones are the easiest for you to pull, in a future article.

John Brewer is the founder of HIPAAaudit.com. He and his team help physicians run HIPAA Compliant practices in the simplest, most pain free way.

Screwed Up Meaningful Use (at least for specialists)

Posted on January 24, 2011 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.

I regularly get passionate emails from readers of EMR and EHR (and of course my other site EMR and HIPAA. I don’t always agree with the emails, but I almost always find them interesting. The following is one such email. It wasn’t intended to be published, so excuse the format. However, I find much of the comments about ONC’s approach to specialists spot on. The hard part is that I think ONC realizes this as well. The question is whether ONC in meaningful use stage 2 is going to do anything to address the specialist problem. I think this is a topic we need to voice to ONC.

The EMR’s basically started with certification requirements from CCHIT…ONC took that starting point…and moved to MU from it…without regard to specialty. Properly done, they should have started with MU by specialty…then figured out what the product certification requirements should be from there—for that specialty: Orthopedic guys see lots of patients (50-70 per day, and lose two days/week to surgery), mostly NEW patients with specific problems (broken bones or joint replacements)…no big longitudinal charts…and need to dictate complex notes; Dermatologists have lots of lab/biopsy tests, need to draw pictures and annotate them, not dictate; Pediatricians need growth charts and long medical histories and trends; Oncologists need detailed treatment histories, dosages, outcomes; Ophthalmologists need lots of technical data, measurements and interfaces to optic devices. Yet ONC made a set of rules that really only apply to Primary Care…which is where much of the CHRONIC conditions (and a large portion of the medical cost issues) are quarterbacked…and have the best chance of prevention.

Besides…all the data from specialists should flow back to the PriCare docs anyway…why try to keep it coordinated in both places? I think we have a long way to go to get all healthcare “communitized”…and powers that be need to recognize how different things are for various specialties…and define MU from each specialty’s point of view…and find out that the current certification standards are WAY overkill for most of them…unnecessary complexity and, thereby, cost….to do the irrelevant things to qualify for incentives. After five years, they will stop doing those things anyway, when incentives run out. Having a data pathway between in-patient and out-patient (ambulatory) is a great goal…that should come first..the ability to share data…even if via documents. That could be done today. Trying to devise interoperability standards for 400 EHR’s, a dozen or so major Hospital-based vendors…and registries, labs and other participants….that is a LONG way from being reality

Will be interesting to see how the “success stories” pan out this year starting in May for EP’s. Thank goodness ONC has made it almost impossibly easy for specialists in Stage I….they can opt out of almost everything required and get incentives the first 2 years($30k)…is that a good use of taxpayer money?

Great Chart Comparing Meaningful Use Stage 1 with Stage 2 and 3

Posted on January 21, 2011 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.

Today I came across this really great chart that compares the meaningful use stage 1 requirements with the proposed requirements for meaningful use stage 2 and 3. The comment period is still open for meaningful use stage 2 and 3 so make your voice heard.

Here’s the roadmap as described by John Halamka:
Jan, 12, 2011: release draft Meaningful Use criteria and request for comment
Feb-March, 2011: analyze comment submissions and revise Meaningful Use draft criteria
March, 2011: present revised draft Meaningful Use criteria to the HIT Policy Committee
2Q11: CMS report on initial Stage 1 Meaningful Use submissions
3Q11: Final HIT Policy Committee recommendations on Stage 2 Meaningful Use
4Q11: CMS Meaningful Use NPRM

See the comparison chart embedded below.


Nephrologists (Dialysis Centers) and EMR Stimulus Money

Posted on January 17, 2011 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.

I often get questions from readers of my sites and I often don’t know the answer. So, instead of acting like I know the answer, I like to put it out to my readers to see what they have to say about the topic. This is one of those cases. Here’s the question I got about Nephrologists and Dialysis Centers and EMR stimulus money.

I am interested in finding out how dialysis centers qualify for the EHR incentive money and best practices for Nephrologists, NPs, and/or PAs running dialysis centers for attestation.

This is an area I’m not that familiar with. So, if you know more than I (which many of you do), let us know your thoughts in the comments. I’ll update the post if needed too.

My only general thought is that it wouldn’t seem like I’ve seen an exception that would exclude nephrologists so I assume they could be considered an “eligible provider.” I also imagine that they probably have a large number of Medicare patients so that they can easily meet the Medicare reimbursement requirements and they might even meet the Medicaid requirements.

I guess the real question might be whether nephrologists and dialysis centers use a “certified EHR” or not. If not, then they’re likely up a creek. If they do, then my next question is whether or not it’s worth their time to ask their patients if their smokers (amongst other meaningful use requirements) every time they come for a visit.

Talk amongst yourselves in the comments.

EMR Adoption Trends

Posted on December 7, 2010 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.

The always interesting and passionate Al Borges, MD posted a comment in response to my post from over a year ago about EMR tire kickers and EMR Adoption:

>>> “I think we’re going to see a tremendous increase in EMR purchases at that point in time.”

Why did you believe this back then, John?

Doctors aren’t stupid- most won’t throw themselves at MU’s $44,000.00 only to be left straddled with a loss from year 1 due to the estimated costs of owning an EHR and doing MU for eternity of $40-60,000.00 per year.

Time has shown that the HIT industry has stagnated, with few doctors now buying into the politically driven HITECH Act. I can’t wait until the next CDC biyearly report…

Here’s my response to Al’s comment:

Al,
I still think that statement’s true. There’s going to be a spike in those that purchase EMR software to get the EMR stimulus money. Many were already considering buying it before the stimulus and now a good number of doctors will buy an EMR now that we have the details and timelines for the EMR stimulus.

After this jump in sales, it’s then going to be interesting to watch. The future sales of EMR software are going to be highly dependent on the experience of these initial EMR implementations. If they’re successful and doctors like their EMR and get the EMR stimulus money, then we’ll see more EMR adoption. If they don’t like it or have trouble getting the EMR stimulus money or experience many of the headaches of EMR adoption that we’ve seen before, then I believe it will actually set EMR adoption back long term.

I know which way you lean on that scale. I still think the jury is out, but I am concerned that the later scenario is a distinct possibility.

If the later scenario of an EMR adoption setback occurs, I’m not sure we’ll come out of it until the next generation of “digital natives” finish medical school and achieve prominent enough status in a clinic to push EMR adoption again.

I did misjudge the time it would take to really get the details of the EMR stimulus in place. I thought by February or March of 2010 we’d have known more than we did. Turns out the legislative details took much longer than I expected, but I think we’ll see the EMR adoption spike now that the details are finally in. At least that’s the view I see as far as action and interest in selecting and implementing an EMR.

What do you guys think? How is EMR adoption going and what EMR adoption trends do you see happening in the future?

EMR Doctor’s Blog: Popular Misconceptions of Using an EHR System From a Provider’s Point of View

Posted on December 6, 2010 I Written By

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009.

I thought it would be fun to discuss the “real world” of what it’s like to use an EHR system. Here are a few misconceptions that, if you believe all the advertising and other hype, you might have about the benefits of using an EHR system. Although the promise is definitely there in terms of what should be feasible ideally, the real world often determines otherwise.

Misconception 1. “I walk out of the office at 5 PM with all of my notes done for the day.  Awesome!”

Maybe once every month I can do this, on a slow day. The fact is that all of the documentation that needs to be completed prior to signing a note usually cannot be done for all visit notes by the end of the day. There are a variety of issues. Patients throw you curve balls on the way out the door. Patients have complex issues that you need more time to research prior to finalizing your plans. Patients forget information that they want to call you back about later, e.g. missing medication names and doses, doctor’s names that they want you to cc:, etc. On busier days, when patients come in late and you end up juggling appointments to avoid refusing to see anyone (this is private practice with real cash flow needs after all!), or when the phone just ends up ringing off the hook with one urgent issue after another, signing all your notes by 5 PM becomes impossible.

Misconception 2. “It’s a breeze to electronically send all my prescriptions. I don’t need a scrip pad anymore!  Woohoo!”

Mail order pharmacies destroyed this one with all their forms. Three-quarters of the patients in this category need me to fill out a paper form to fax in. The other 25% need paper scrips written out, typically five to ten at a time, so that they can mail them in themselves. Auto-renewal requests come in by fax every day, needing to be filled out and faxed back. My personal revenge comes in the form of being able to fill most of these out using my PDF editor software prior to faxing them back without touching a single microdot of ink to paper.

Misconception 3. “I don’t have to dictate anymore.  Yippee!”

For all new patient visits, I end up dictating at least the history of present illness (i.e. “HPI”, the first paragraph or two telling the patient’s story for those of you unfamiliar with this terminology). Although I can eliminate paying for this service by using a free iPhone app (Dragon Dictation), I still have to go through the process of speaking and then editing the notes. The alternatives would involve me sitting there wasting huge amounts of time typing details into a paragraph or two for each patient, or I would end up doing what I see some of my referring docs do, which is to type in VERY brief notes that eliminate a lot of important details just to get by and move on to the next patient. Some contrarians might suggest that everything can be done through templates, which is partially true to some extent, but everyone’s story is unique and different, especially when you are dealing with subspeciality areas such as disorders of the thyroid and adrenal glands.  The last time one of my patients had run-of-the-mill chest pain that could be reduced to a series of templated checkboxes to adequately describe their story was … well… never.

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009. Check out all of Dr. West’s EMR Doctor’s Blog posts.