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EMR and EHR Ratings Confusion

Posted on October 30, 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.

I recently got a comment from Tammie on my post about EMR and EHR rating websites. Here last line really hits home:

If we cannot trust the reliability of web published EMR/EHR ratings, then are we not to trust the surveys and polls conducted by the professional organizations or the selections by the Regional Exchange Centers either? I can’t recall ever researching something so thoroughly and have so much information available to me and yet be still so utterly confused.

It’s a definite challenge. I’d suggest going through a methodical process that’s described in my free EMR Selection e-Book. Still a challenge, but this approach helps.

Allscripts Sunsetting PeakPractice EMR

Posted on October 28, 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.

It’s now official. Allscripts will be shutting down their PeakPractice EMR solution. In an FAQ for PeakPractice clients Allscripts gave more details. I’ve put a copy of the info below for reference. Honestly, this wasn’t much of a surprise for me. Allscripts had far too many EMR software in one company. It seems that Allscripts has chosen to go with: MyWay, Professional and MedFlow as their EMR packages going forward.

I do find it interesting that Allscripts plans to support PeakPractice through the first stage of meaningful use. I think the time frames were just too small to do otherwise. If there was a bit more time it would have made sense for Allscripts to use the stimulus money to motivate people to move off of PeakPractice and on to one of the other Allscripts EMR.

I’m honestly interested to hear how well the conversion goes between PeakPractice and other Allscripts EMR solutions. I think there’s going to be a lot of misinformation about what the can and can’t convert. Especially since it seems like what they’ll be able to convert will depend on which Allscripts EMR software you choose to convert to. Yeah, this has mess written all over it.

I’ll be watching for the next round of companies that take care of EMR conversions from PeakPractice. I remember the round when all the Misys users were ready to convert from Misys to something other than Allscripts. I expect we’ll see similar movement by PeakPractice EMR users. So much for going with a large company to ensure the stability of your EMR software.

Here’s the letter from Allscripts to PeakPractice Users:

Dear Valued PeakPractice Client,

When we brought together Allscripts and Eclipsys, we committed to you that we would share critical decisions as soon as they were complete.

After careful deliberation and review, we are making a change to our future plans for PeakPractice. In making this decision, our goal was to ensure that we could effectively meet your needs both now and in the future by providing you with systems that are stable, easy to support, and flexible enough to allow us to quickly respond to the rapidly changing market and regulatory requirements.

After careful analysis, we have decided to make the following changes.

We will continue development of the current version (5.5) of PeakPractice and ensure that it achieves ARRA Certification as a Complete EHR. We will be submitting this version for certification later in October. This will allow you, as a current PeakPractice client, to use the certified version to demonstrate Stage 1 Meaningful Use and claim your 2011 Stimulus incentives. With this version, you will be eligible for the first two years of incentives for Stimulus, totaling $30,000 under the Medicare program ($18,000 in year 1 and $12,000 in year 2).

We will continue development to ensure PeakPractice’s compliance with ANSI 5010, which will be released as PeakPractice version 5.6.

We will continue to provide support and hot fixes as needed for PeakPractice for the foreseeable future.
Relative to future versions, we will not develop net new features for PeakPractice once ARRA certification and ANSI 5010 compliance are achieved.

We will offer an upgrade path that includes both a FREE like-for-like, license-for-license swap and a FREE data conversion (see below) for current PeakPractice clients who want to upgrade to another Allscripts solution. We expect that many of our clients will choose to wait to upgrade until after you demonstrate Meaningful Use in 2011 with PeakPractice and receive your Stimulus incentives.

We have set up a PeakPractice Hotline at 877-611-1377 to both answer questions and arrange an assessment as to which Allscripts EHR/PM platform will be best for your organization.

We will work with you to determine the product and timeline that is designed to be most effective for you and have the least impact on your operations. We would encourage you to consider scheduling an upgrade to your EHR/PM solution at a time that is best for you, again, most likely after you have demonstrated Meaningful Use in 2011.

In terms of the upgrade we are making available, we will provide the following.

A FREE like-for-like, license-for-license swap between PeakPractice and a corresponding Allscripts EHR and/or PM solution (MyWay, Professional or MedFlow, depending upon your needs). We recognize there are many complexities surrounding the combinations of Practice Management and EHR products, but our program addresses each of these in detail.

We will convert data from your PeakPractice system to the selected Allscripts solution for FREE. Again, the scope of what will be converted varies depending on the systems from which and to which you are migrating.

Please note that while templates are not included in this conversion, we can recommend resources that can assist with template conversions, if you wish to pursue them. Likewise, other services (such as ASP fees, support, set-up, hosting, and EDI, such as through Payerpath) are available for the Allscripts products, but are not part of the free upgrade. We will be happy to discuss how to arrange for those services with you. This free upgrade is available through December 31, 2012. This should give everyone ample time to decide which route they wish to pursue.

We do not make this change lightly, as we recognize and appreciate the investment that you have made in this solution.
You will likely have many questions about this process, and we hope this link to our Frequently Asked Questions document addresses many of them. If you have further questions, please call the PeakPractice hotline (877-611-1377) or your Allscripts representative.

We intend to provide you with a pathway that allows you to achieve all stages of Meaningful Use and protects the investment you have made. We are committed to working with you as partners during and after this transition.

iPad EMR Eases Doctors Concerns

Posted on October 27, 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.

At least the above is the title of the Information Week article on ClearPractice’s iPad EHR interface called Nimble. You might remember that I did a short review of the Nimble iPad EMR previously. I still stand by my comments of the Nimble iPad interface not being perfect for the iPad. The keyboard was clunky and slow to appear and the boxes were surprisingly small for a native iPad app.

Here’s the doctor in the article’s take on the iPad EMR:

Having a small office, there’s no space for a desktop in the exam rooms, so prior to recently using Nimble on the iPad, Dr. Lianna Lawson, a solo-practitioner, wheeled a laptop on cart to exam rooms.

“Laptops on carts — I don’t like that, it seems impersonal,” said Lawson, whose practice, Lawson Family Medicine and Aesthetics is based in Daleville, VA. Lawson has been using ClearPractice’s web-based EMR on a laptop for about a year. Lawson added Nimble to her practice in September.

Nimble running on the iPad, “has the feel of a [paper] chart,” Lawson. “Many doctors are traditionalists, so the comfort level with technology is difficult,” she said. “But for physicians not particularly tech savvy or reluctant of about how they’ll meet the meaningful use requirements, this gives a little more comfort and confidence,” she said.

It’s true that laptops on carts are a mess. As I recently argued in a post on healthcare mobile devices, the iPad does seem to have the right size and feel. That combined with the 3G connection helps to change the game. Although, I think we’re going to see more devices that build on top of the iPad’s innovations and provide an even better user experience for doctors.

Here’s another quote from the Doctor about the use of the Nimble iPad EMR:

Now Lawson said she brings the iPad with her wherever she goes, responding to patients “24 by 7,” when they have questions over weekends, or other after-hour concerns. In the office, she can use Nimble “while scooting around” in her exam rooms caring for patients.

There’s been other surprise perks to using the iPad-based product, namely engaging patients while using the EMR, she said. “I didn’t expect this to be the result, but patients can see” and talk about what’s on the EMR as she uses the iPad near them. The interactions can help in building a more solid dialogue between physician and patient — and can even help make records more accurate.

While Lawson was using the iPad during a patient exam recently, the patient saw that an entry on the list of medications in her health record was incorrect, and the patient reminded Lawson that she was no longer taking a particular drug. Lawson updated the information.

The first paragraph highlights what some doctors hate about an EMR. They want to leave the office at the office. They don’t want to be proverbially chained to the office since it’s all literally at the touch of their fingertips. Maybe this is why there were so many work life balance sessions at the AAFP conference I attended recently.

Patients seeing what you’re doing in your EMR has often been seen as good and bad. Some doctors love it and embrace the participation with the patients. Other doctors hate having the patients look over what they’ve done and have to answer more questions because a patient saw something on the screen which they didn’t understand. I think we all know which doctor we’d rather see. Although, we can all appreciate the uneasy feeling of someone looking over our shoulders.

The article did remind me of the images that the Nimble EMR makes available to a doctor. That part is actually really cool and the iPad is the perfect way to display and navigate those images as a doctor describes something to a patient.

I should also remind people, the iPad still doesn’t print. Although, that should be remedied relatively soon. Or there are a few hacks out there to make it happen.

Avoiding the EMR Company Sales Tricks

Posted on October 26, 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.

Today I came across this blog post by the Gerson Lehrman Group (not sure who they are, but the content was good). In their blog post/news post/whatever they like to call it, they suggest 3 risks you should avoid to prevent being a victim of EMR vendor tricks.

With all the confusion going on, there are 3 risks you should avoid when making your EMR selection:
1. Paying too much for an EMR solution;
2. Buying a solution with little or no training or support;
3. Buying from a vendor who currently has or develops financial troubles or goes out of business.

The first two are INCREDIBLY important and I see people falling into those two traps all the time and I can barely understand why. There’s just far too many EMR and EHR vendors out there to be trapped into paying a TON of money for EMR software. Not to mention, many of them are more than willing to give you price quotes so you can compare the pricing.

Plus, don’t underestimate the need of training and support. Make sure that’s part of the package. In fact, many EMR vendors will give you unlimited training and support as part of your purchase. They can provide unlimited because they believe in their system and that you won’t need a TON of support. That’s a great thing.

The third item listed above is a little harder. Certainly there’s some you can do to evaluate where the company is and where the company is going. However, crazy stuff sometimes happens and you couldn’t have been aware of it. So, be aware of the third thing and make sure that there are things in your contract that take care of any situations like this happening.

CALLING ALL DOCTORS Take 2! EMR Software Opinions Wanted

Posted on October 25, 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.

One of my readers came upon a post that Dr. Jeff did back in July of 2009 called CALLING ALL DOCTORS! EMR Software Opinions Wanted. They loved reading the comments about the various EMR and EHR vendors (I did too) and they thought maybe it was time to call for doctors to offer their opinions and evaluations again. So, here’s some sections of the original post to get you thinking:

This is a SHOUT OUT to all doctors who use EMRs. Which EMRs do you use and how do you like them. Do you love them or hate them? Are you luke warm in your like or dislike? Tell us which EMR you have and how you feel about it. Also tell us what you would do (the mistakes and the good moves) if you were looking into getting an EMR at this time.

Can you comment on the cost and the usability?. Let’s share information so we can help other doctors choose systems that are usable, simple to learn, effective and efficient.

If you don’t have an EMR and are looking into one, what questions would you have for those “who have gone before you”? What advice would you be interested in receiving?

Also, if you’re someone who likes to hear a doctor’s perspective on EMR and EHR, check out this just launched blog called The Wired EMR Doctor where Dr. Koriwchak will be writing about EMR and EHR from a doctor’s perspective. We’ve primed it with 8 or so posts to get him started. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Bedside Manner in the Information Age

Posted on I Written By

Dr. Michael J. Koriwchak received his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine in 1988. He completed both his Internship in General Surgery and Residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Koriwchak continued at Vanderbilt for a fellowship in Laryngology and Care of the Professional Voice. He is board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. After training Dr. Koriwchak moved to Atlanta in 1995 to become one of the original physicians in Ear, Nose and Throat of Georgia. He has built a thriving practice in Laryngology, Care of the Professional Voice, Thyroid/Parathyroid Surgery, Endoscopic Sinus Surgery and General Otolaryngology. A singer himself, many of his patients are people who depend on their voice for their careers, including some well-known entertainers. Dr. Koriwchak has also performed thousands of thyroid, parathyroid and head and neck cancer operations. Dr. Koriwchak has been working with information technology since 1977. While an undergraduate at Bucknell University he taught a computer-programming course. In medical school he wrote his own software for his laboratory research. In the 1990’s he adapted generic forms software to create one the first electronic prescription applications. Soon afterward he wrote his own chart note templates using visual BASIC script. In 2003 he became the physician champion for ENT of Georgia’s EMR implementation project. This included not only design and implementation strategy but also writing code. In 2008 the EMR implementation earned the e-Technology award from the Medical Association of Georgia. With 7 years EMR experience, 18 years in private medical practice and over 35 years of IT experience, Dr. Koriwchak seeks opportunities to merge the information technology and medical communities, bringing information technology to health care.

In 2003 our practice had a rare opportunity to build EMR functionality into the floor plan of our new office.  I thought I had the perfect design for the EMR-based exam room.  The spring-loaded, cantilevered arms used to hold monitors and keyboards in ICU rooms would be perfect.  Fitting a touch screen monitor to a standard PC would allow the provider to work without a mouse.  I could turn the screen toward me or toward the patient, depending on what I was doing.  Could see it all in my mind’s eye, plain as day.  Fortunately my partners had more sense than I did; the group limited the idea to 2 of 8 exam rooms.  Six months after we moved into our new space the idea had been tried and had died, and the 2 arms now sit unused.

Shortly thereafter, the other member practices in our network were preparing to implement EMR.  Everyone wanted to know what kind of computers to buy and where to put them.  We considered many combinations of computers (desktops, laptops, tablets) and possible locations (exam rooms, back office, physician office).  Where inside the exam room should the computer be placed?  And where should the printers be installed?  I began to realize that behind these seemingly simple hardware questions lurked a much more challenging issue.

The introduction of information technology to the patient care environment fundamentally changes the physician’s interpersonal approach to the patient – one’s bedside manner.  If this change is not actively managed, the doctor-patient relationship will be adversely affected.  The computer competes with the patient for the doctor’s attention and can easily take over.  We must ensure that the patient always prevails over the machine.

To that end, we have learned some things over the past 5 years:

The e-scribe.  This is a very effective technique but is also the most expensive.  Because the physician almost never touches the computer, the patient has the doctor’s undivided attention.  But the scribe has a big pitfall- it’s very easy for the physician to avoid contact with the chart altogether.  This reduces the quality of documentation and raises the risk of medical errors.  Every chart note must have some documentation that came directly from the physician’s brain, even if it is just a sentence or two.

The tablet PC.  This is my favorite if you can’t afford to hire a scribe.  With a tablet you can work side by side with the patient and show what you are doing.  This demystifies the IT presence and gives you more time to navigate screens and get the work done.  It also showcases to the patient all that work you put in to get EMR.  They will notice.

The handwriting recognition in Windows 7 works well and is much better than Windows XP.  Handwriting in the chart in front of the patient is much more culturally acceptable than using a keyboard.

I tried an iPad for about a month.  The wow factor was great but the touch screen was a little too sluggish for a button-dense EMR screen.  Handwriting recognition that works with Remote Desktop is not available for the iPad.  The patients loved it though.

Laptops are most commonly used just outside the exam room, either at a workstation or on a rolling unit placed just outside the exam room door.  Carrying the laptop into the exam room works well as long as there is a convenient, safe place to put it.

Desktop PCs. Unless you have a scribe, using a desktop PC in the exam room will likely force you to turn your back to the patient to use the EMR.  I was hoping to avoid that problem by using the ill-fated spring-loaded arms to hold the monitor and keyboard.  Desktop PCs in exam rooms logged on to your EMR also raise privacy / security issues.

Hybrid techniques. Currently my assistant accompanies me in the exam room and uses a small netbook to take notes.  At the same time I use my tablet mainly for workflow (prescriptions, handouts, test ordering etc.) but I may jot down notes as well.  One of my partners uses a laptop for himself and one for his assistant, both on rolling workstations just outside the exam room.  They both work in the same chart at the same time – the MD on workflow, the assistant on documentation.

Speech recognition. I love it and use it every day.  But not in the exam room.  From a cultural standpoint it is too awkward.  Any extraneous noise wrecks the speech engine, and you will waste time deleting “word salad” from your chart note.  The patient must be totally silent during your dictation.  But it is not easy to be quiet when someone is talking about you as if you aren’t even there.

Remember the basics. Eye contact.   Listening.   Empathy.  Be sure you spend some time connected only to your patient.  Close the laptop, put the tablet down, and pretend you’re back in the good old paper chart days.

Think carefully about your exam room layout. The computer is yet another item that must be wedged into that tiny room.  Make some room by cleaning out anything that doesn’t really need to be there.  Think about wall-mounted document racks and folding work surfaces.

You won’t be able to guess what is going to work best for you ahead of time.  Pick an option, try it for a while, and then try something else.  If you have 2 exam rooms, set them up differently and see which is better.  As you gain experience your preferences may change.

Software and hardware aren’t there yet.  We still need products that operate based on how we practice medicine.

As technology changes so will our best practices.  We do our best to “roll with the punches,” keeping up as best we can.

Welcome to Wired EMR Doctor!!

Posted on October 23, 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.

I’d like to welcome everyone to the new blog Wired EMR Doctor!! We have exciting plans for this blog to cover the electronic medical record (EMR) or if you prefer electronic health record (EHR) world from the perspective of a doctor.

Expect to find some really really great content that doctors will love to read if they’re using an EMR, considering the purchase of an EMR or implementing an EMR.

I’ll let Dr. Michael J. Koriwchak introduce himself soon, but get ready to see coverage of EMR from a real doctor’s perspective in partnership with EMR and HIPAA & EMR and EHR.

HIMSS 11 Offers RFID Tracking at Annual Conference

Posted on October 21, 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.

I got an interesting press release from HIMSS today announcing that they’ll be using RFID technology to track foot traffic to exhibitors at the HIMSS annual conference:

HIMSS and Alliance Tech have partnered to offer booth traffic reporting and analysis for HIMSS exhibitors at the 2011 Annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibition scheduled for Feb. 20-24, 2011 in Orlando, Fla.

“Understanding the needs and preferences of attendees at our annual conference has always been a priority for HIMSS,” says H. Stephen Lieber, CAE, HIMSS President and CEO. “With the incorporation of RFID technology at HIMSS11, we are expanding conference benefits for both our exhibitors and attendees as they work together to find the best technology solution needed by the healthcare organization.”

It seems like an exaggeration to say that this is a benefit to attendees. I can see the value for the exhibitors. It’s going to be interesting to see how this is used. I’m not sure what I think about that tracking, but we’ll see how it’s used. I think many attendees will be less than happy about the idea.

What do you think of this?

EMR and EHR Rating Websites

Posted on October 20, 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.

There are a number of EMR and EHR rating websites out there. The problem that I have is that none of them are really very good at all. They all have MAJOR weaknesses and some are just completely and utterly flawed. Some require the EMR and EHR vendors to pay them to be rated. Doesn’t that just wreak of conflict of interest?

There’s just so many ways to have the ratings of EMR and EHR vendors be skewed. Dr. Oates, Founder of SOAPware, recently wrote a blog post about the problems with many of the EMR and EHR rating websites and reports. Certainly he has a vested interest in his EMR software to be ranked highly, but this part aside he raises some very important questions about the accuracy and value of these various ranking systems.

Here’s one sample of the challenge of ranking and rating EMR and EHR vendors:

In addition to accepting user evaluations, many of the ranking systems require that vendors also fill in yes/no to a large list of features. Historically, many vendors have demonstrated tendencies to answer “yes” to functionalities to which a “no” would have been more accurate. Because we tend to answer honestly, we have sometimes ended up inaccurately appearing to be less functional than some others.
There are inherent problems with each of these surveys in that the survey results can, and often are, manipulated by the vendors who are paying a the most of attention to them. Because these surveys are the result of users offering information, some vendors will expend great effort to be certain that many, mostly happy users of their product are in some fashion encouraged to participate in the surveys. SOAPware has typically avoided such activities, because it ends up being a game to see who can motivate the most satisfied users to engage the ranking system.

This is just a small sample of the challenges of trying to honestly and effectively get quality ratings and reviews of EMR and EHR vendors. Yet, providers and practice managers have an insatiable appetite to try and get information on the various EMR and EHR vendors.

Trust me, this is not an easy issue. If I knew the solution, I’d have already done it myself. I write about this since I think it’s a valuable and important message for doctors to be very very careful trusting any of the data coming out of these EMR and EHR ratings websites. Instead, go download the Free copy of my EMR Selection e-Book and do the work necessary to rate them based on your specific practice needs.

David Blumenthal Addresses Disparity in EMR Adoption In Minority Communities

Posted on October 18, 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.

David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for HIT, published a letter today calling on the EMR vendor community to provide EMR opportunities to physicians and other healthcare providers “working within underserved communities of color.”

Dr. Blumenthal also says:

We are writing to solicit your assistance in making sure that we are not creating a new form of “digital divide” and want to make sure that health IT vendors include providers who serve minority communities in their sales and marketing efforts.

I must admit that I’d rarely considered the idea of EMR adoption being a racial issue. I’d certainly put some thought into the community health care initiatives that serve poor communities. I’ve given some thought to the challenges of EMR in a rural health setting. I haven’t given much thought to it being a racial issue. Now that I’ve read this, I’ll certainly be considering this possible “digital divide” more.

My initial reaction is to question why there’s this disparity. I know a lot of EMR vendors and I’m quite sure that they’d be MORE than happy to sell their EMR software to a clinic with no regard to their color or ethnicity. I think it’s reasonable to say that most EMR software companies aren’t deliberately choosing not to serve these “communities of color.” So, it begs the difficult to answer question of why these communities aren’t seeing the adoption of EHR at the same level of other communities.

The other question worth considering is if EMR vendors are missing out on a real opportunity to grow their business if they focused their sales and marketing efforts on these minority communities.

These are definitely not easy questions to answer, but I’m glad that Dr. Blumenthal started the discussion. I know it will be on mind more now.