Response to Small Practice EMR Adoption Trust Issues

Posted on March 10, 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.

Last week, Katherine posted an interesting analysis of the challenges that small practices face in finding a trusted source to help them adopt an EMR. It’s a really interesting read and does highlight some important issues that small practices face as they consider and implement an EMR.

What I think Katherine does a great job highlighting in her post is that many doctors don’t know where to turn for information on selecting and implementing an EMR the right way. Add in the lack of time doctors can (or choose) to commit to an EMR project, the 300+ EMR company marketplace, the relatively complicated EHR incentive money details, and I can understand why Katherine suggests that many doctors are likely to sit out for now.

Of course, I think that EMR and EHR (this site) and EMR and HIPAA are both great resources to assist people in selecting and implementing an EMR, they still have 1500 articles that I’ve written that doctors would have to sift through. In fact, that’s a big reason why I wrote this free e-Book on EMR selection. I call it my cliff notes version of what I’ve written on my various EMR blogs.

Dan Shirey from Health IT Associates sent me the following email response to Katherine’s post as well. It was thoughtful and thorough and so I thought I’d share it (with permission) with everyone else. Let’s also hear other people’s thoughts in the comments.

You couldn’t be more wrong. You paint a picture where everyone associated with EHR is a bad guy. That’s like saying Doctors are only in it for the money and don’t really care if the patient lives or dies. There are consultants and contractors that want to work with the physicians to implement the best EHR system for the practice and there are vendors who want to provide products that are beneficial to the practice. And Yes, they all want to make some money just like the physician wants to make money from his practice.

Physicians first need to take ownership of the changes taking place in the healthcare industry. Generally speaking, physicians have not taken ownership of the transition to Health IT which includes EHR. EHR is simply the first step in a integrating information technology with healthcare, top to bottom. Physicians and their EHR systems will be the foundation of a national healthcare information system that has the potential to provide enormous benefits. It is imperative that physicians step up and take ownership of EHR for their practice to ensure that the appropriate foundation is laid and that significant and sustainable benefits are established.

The physician has limited skills for selecting an EHR system because he is not a IT expert and is not highly experienced in selecting mission critical IT systems. Also the physician has limited time to put into EHR selection and implementation. From a management perspective, the physician is not well qualified to attempt an EHR implementation. That means that a physician needs a “trusted partner” with the skills and time required for EHR implementation. Due diligence is required in selecting that “trusted partner.”

The trusted partner should be well qualified and experienced in IT systems selection and implementation, project management and change management. He may be called a consultant, a contractor or even a vendor. Obviously, a vendor is biased toward his own products but he may be the a good choice under specific circumstances. The key requirement is that the trusted partner works in the “best interests’ of the physician.
That includes:

  • defining EHR requirements based upon the needs of the practice and the preferences of the physician.
  • working diligently to match those requirements with software functionality.
  • implementing the system, ensuring staff training is thorough and effective.
  • measuring results based on the requirements and effectively addressing any deficiencies before “go live”.
  • working with the physician immediately after “go live” to resolve problems and fine-tune the system.
  • working from a “total practice” perspective and not from an IT perspective.
  • making the solution fit the practice, not the practice fit the solution.
  • The physician doesn’t need any more guidance than provided here. He should provide guidance to the “trusted partner” and champion the EHR project to ensure the needs of the practice and his own preference are met.

Finding the right help for EHR implementation is dependent upon knowing what to look for before you begin the search. There are many qualified professionals available and they will be in high demand over the next few years. Physicians should begin their search now and should not proceed with EHR implementation until they have a “trusted partner” who is focused upon success.

Dan Shirey
Health IT Associates

Note from John: I think some of you haven’t noticed that Katherine Rourke has been posting on EMR and EHR quite regularly for the past 1-2 months. If you want to know who wrote the post, just take a look near the title of the post and it will say who authored it. Katherine’s been doing a great job, but I just wanted to make sure people could know when it was me and when it was Katherine posting. Plus, if you don’t like what she writes you can get angry with her and not me;-)