Physician Social Media Use And EMR Adoption: Held Back By Similar Forces

Posted on March 23, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

In a recent blog post, Dr. Jeffrey Benabio argues that generally speaking, there are two simple reasons why many physicians haven’t spent more time digging into social networking:

*  Fear of liability

*  Lack of compensation for time invested

I’d argue that these two forces are holding back much of physician EMR adoption as well.  Sure, many practices dislike having to spend on an EMR solution, and may find technology overwhelming, but I’d argue that the two concerns  above are far more powerful.

Honestly, I think complaints about EMR costs have been exaggerated.  EMRs aren’t necessarily a big expense for a healthy practice, especially given that hosted solutions are getting more affordable by the day.  I’m not saying the cost is trivial, but it can be managed.

And I don’t think physicians, especially young ones, are stone-cold terrified by the idea of bringing more technology into the practice. They may not be thrilled by changing their workflow, but they’re intelligent adults who have doubtless used computers to perform many other types of work in their time.  Buying an EMR is a stretch, but not the biggest hurdle they face.

No, I think that fear of liability — in this case, mistakes made due to EMR misuse — and of sinking countless hours into learning the new platform are the biggest inhibitors to physician EMR implementation.  Both of these fall into the “fear of the unknown” category which derails so many new technologies.

If I’m right about this, the best way to boost medical practices’ EMR adoption rates may be to help address these fears. CMS, the courts and leading attorneys need to nail down what liability doctors face when working in this new environment, and vendors need to find better ways to assure doctors they’ll be productive quickly.

Let’s get right down to it and help doctors cope with their real concerns. Otherwise, we’ll wait in frustration as consultants and policymakers swing and miss.