Learning from One Doctor’s Experience with EMR – EMR and EHR Interviews

Posted on June 7, 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.

This is the first in a series of EMR, EHR and Healthcare IT interviews that will be done on EMR and HIPAA and EMR and EHR. The full EMR interview with Dr. West can be found on the new EMR, EHR and Healthcare IT interviews website. The following is a summary of that interview written by Kathy Bongiovi.

If you’re a doctor, nurse, practice manager, EHR consultant, CEO or executive of an EHR vendor, etc with EMR experience that’s interested in being interviewed, let us know on our Contact Us page.

In a recent interview with Dr. West, an endocrinologist in Washington D.C. and blogger at Happy EMR Doctor, the doctor discussed his experience in finding an EMR capable of fulfilling the needs of his specialized practice and, at the same time, saving him time. Dr. West discussed the arduous process of going from a failed to a successful EMR system.

His first experience with EMR was frustrating and he ultimately ended his relationship with the vendor. West heard other horror stories regarding failed EMRs and was convinced if he kept trying he would find an EMR that would fit his needs.

Dr. West advises other doctors and healthcare professionals to avoid rushing into any relationship with an EMR vendor and to make sure that when they sign a contract, first make sure the contract has a “satisfaction and money-back guarantee”. He suggests that anyone searching for an EMR, should find a vendor willing to let them try out their product for at least a month with no strings attached. Dr. West adds that the doctor or healthcare professional should also make sure there are not a lot of very specific hardware requirements in case the provider needs to change vendors.

Although some studies suggest a decrease in productivity with EMR systems because of a lack of customization for given specialties, West is not suffering from any of those issues and gives the credit to his EMR, Practice Fusion which is free and web based. The doctor has been able to customize templates to fit his specialty in endocrinology and is therefore able to see patients faster and complete their notes by the close of business. The benefits of customized templates, in his practice, allow “a more uniform approach to common problems, such as diabetes and thyroid nodules.” He goes on to explain that the result is a “well-defined path of questions designed to gather the most meaningful and relevant information” from the patient.

An EHR thorn in Dr. West’s side is his decision to not participate in the government’s EHR incentive plan. He thought he’d pursue the path to meaningful use, but after a great deal of frustration he abandoned his pursuit of the government’s EHR incentive money. West stated he may blog about his inner struggle with this issue. If so, his comments will appear in his blog Happy EMR Doctor.

The interview also touched upon Medicare’s recent practice of eliminating consultation codes and the consequences of this practice. By eliminating codes, Medicare has restricted providers’ ability to bill in certain instances. This has led to Dr. West and others turning away Medicare patients thereby restricting some patients’ access to care.

Dr. West’s EMR success should give all doctors and healthcare professionals the incentive to conquer the EMR puzzle and regain some of their personal time now spent handling and maintaining paper charts.

Full Disclosure: Practice Fusion is an advertiser on this site. However, they didn’t know we were doing this interview with Dr. West. Also, Happy EMR Doctor, Dr. West’s blog, is part of the Healthcare Scene blog network.