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Will Billing Separate EMR Winners From Losers?

Posted on July 24, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

The other day, I was speaking with a sales exec from a medical billing company, who commented that his company interfaces with about 200 of the leading EMRs.  His comment got me thinking.

I believe we haven’t thought enough about billing when we consider what will drive consolidation in the EMR market. Whether vendors offer it through offering their own practice management system or an easy-to-work-with infrastructure, billing counts a great deal. And the EMRs that aren’t integrating seamlessly aren’t exactly in the driver’s seat in medical practices.

Vendors aren’t in the easiest position when it comes to being a good billing partner. They can offer a suite with practice management available as an add-on, but doctors may not want the whole thing. They can offer an EMR + PM suite that’s already integrated, but what if the practice doesn’t like one of the two?  Some vendors are partnering with companies that make third-party billing applications, but if the other party were to pull out abruptly that strategy could enrage customers.

Still, vendors that balance these factors right have a powerful advantage. After all, practices WANT to get Meaningful Use dollars, but they NEED to get paid. I know that billing would be one of the first things I’d consider if I was shopping for a medical office EMR.

What I’m really saying here is that while most of us agree that a big EMR firm consolidation is coming, we haven’t talked much about the role of strong billing support in an EMR’s market viability. I think we should. I’d love to know if you’ve seen medical office software that really has a strong billing approach, and what you like about it. Thoughts, anyone?

Medical Billing Software Lost in EHR Mix

Posted on April 20, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

One of the many things that seems to be getting lost in the mix of all the noise about EHR software and the EHR incentive money is medical billing software. As I think through all of the presentations from EHR vendors and discussions I’ve had with doctors, consultants and other professionals in the Healthcare IT industry, I think the practice management system is getting lost in the EHR shuffle. Let me ask some important questions:

Does anyone care about the billing software now? What if the billing software that comes packaged with your EHR sucks?

A regular reader of my sites John Brewer often talks about how many of the benefits we like to talk about with technology in a practice are coming from the practice management system, not the EHR. These days most people seem to consider the EHR and PM one package. Yet, I’ve seen people spend little time really understanding whether the billing side of the EHR is going to work for their practice.

In contrast to this comment though is that I haven’t seen an uproar of people complaining about implementing an EHR and their billing going down the tubes. Does this mean that medical billing software has basically become a commodity that every EHR vendor has done to a reasonably sufficient level that no one has a problem? Or maybe we don’t hear about it much because most doctors aren’t business people.

While I don’t have anything but anecdotal evidence of the disregard to medical billing software, I think this is going to eventually come back to bite us. Although, in our generally provider driven world the EHR matters more in the daily workflow and so this isn’t a surprise that we see the EHR bias during medical software selection. Once the physician sees the reimbursement levels lower, they’ll likely wake up to the reality that you need both a solid EHR and a solid PM.

When will Doctors Enthusiastically Get and Use EMR Software and EMR Systems?

Posted on July 22, 2009 I Written By

One Hundred Percent of Doctors and their offices use Practice Management Systems (PMS). Only 3% user “fully functional” EMR Systems. Why only 3% with EMRs and 100% with PM Systems?

The government is going to pay us $44,000 per doctor to use an EMR. They are going to give us a 2% Medicare bonus and other pay-for-performance incentives and they are going to penalize us in the future if we don’t use EMRs. In addition, hospitals are allowed to pay 85% of the cost of the software and training. Will all this money get us the use EMR? Can we be bought? Is it in our interest to use EMRs?

The CEO of SRSsoft tells us that this type of money is not significant if the EMR makes you less productive and less efficient. For example, if you bill $500,000 per year and your EMR makes you 10% less efficient, you lose $50,000 per year!

I agree with this CEO. We (doctors) will not embrace EMR systems until they are usable and they add value! “Usability is the effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which the intended users can achieve their tasks in the intended context of product use.” This definition comes from NIST, ISO and UserCentricity. Adding value means that it makes our jobs more enjoyable, shortens our work day or helps us provide better care.

Doctors use practice management systems because they are usable and they add value. Doctors do not use EMR Systems because most DO NOT add value and they are not usable. There are so many bad EMR systems on the market that the stench and confusion has caused many doctors to not even look (they ask their colleagues who have EMRs and these colleagues say “stay away, it is not worth the cost, aggravation and problems”).

I believe that there are some very good EMRs on the market. The challenge is to find them and promote them. If we (doctors) can find the good EMRs, word will spread and implementation will happen very rapidly!