Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Adopting EMRs: Can Challenges Be Overcome?

A recent Wall Street Journal article talks about the biggest challenges that electronic medical record (EMR) adoption faces: the physicians and HCPs using the system. One challenge that's easy to understand is finding the necessary funding -- $7.5 million of a $250 million investment is allocated for training.  Man, that is a lot of money!

Is there a better way?  We think so, but the real issue is the change that needs to occur in the training of medical personnel.  It also requires a perception change that may make the practice of medicine even less desirable today.  The WSJ article quotes one consulting firm that compares "the switch to the commercial airline industry's move from analog to digital flight decks because both involve highly skilled professionals learning a new technology quickly."  Maybe that is why the cost is so high, but does it have to be?

The Healthcare Channel (HCC) highlighted this point in one of its recent blog posts and suggested that physicians not be paid until they document moving forward. While HCC suggests in a harsh manner that it is physicians' incompetence, we think it is really a fear of the unknown.

We believe EMRs can offer significant advancement in medical care. It is clear that gaps in medical care are caused by events or issues between visits, episodes or conversations. We think technology can positively change care and as HCC suggests, accountable care organizations will need to use EMRs to achieve business objectives and margin targets.

In the end, change is often difficult. When people are faced with change or proving why they should not, most people get busy with the proof.

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