Health IT is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing industries in the world. With the global EMR market alone set to grow by 23.8% within the year, IT has quickly emerged as one of the vital components of healthcare today. This trend is even more amplified at home where the government’s backing has led to an extraordinary increase in health IT organizations and adoption of these systems. Currently, the health IT market hosts nearly 800 unique EMR products amongst which more than 300 solutions have been certified for meaningful use.
While this increase has helped enhance the available options and the chances to find the right fit, providers simply do not have the time and stamina to sift through all the vendors. This mostly leaves providers at the mercy of their peers and the target driven EMR sales force. A number of EMR implementations fail within the first year with most providers rushing into adoption without proper planning or training.
It is essential for practices to establish and evaluate their requirements beforehand. Providers can gather information on EMR products by asking vendors for user references. They can also choose to join user communities and independent forums to broaden their access and understanding. While peer references are useful, they should not inhibit providers from researching on their own.
Preparing a list of questions for vendors is also good practice. However, it should be noted that a sales agent would not hesitate to oversell the product if need be. “Misrepresentation is a huge issue. EHR vendors are able to slip things like web-based and free to use before the provider realizes the catch!”, exclaims Keith Smith, a health IT consultant.
Keith explains that a large number of providers complain about the hidden costs of EMRs, “Providers spend weeks and months evaluating products before finally committing to one, but only at the cost that was reported initially. However, then comes an additional $100-150 for something like hosting or backups but at that point there is no going back now is there?”
It is imperative for providers to pre-negotiate or demand a full cost structure during the evaluation period. Keith recommends asking the EMR vendor for temporary access to get a feel of the product yourself. Demonstrations can be constructed in a way to hide the limitations of the EMR or highlight its key features.
“A lot of major EHR vendors claim their product to be cloud based, while it may be running on a remote server using citrix. Similarly EHR vendors may proclaim live interfacing and HIE ready EMR systems, whereby the actual connectivity may be limited to a couple of exchanges.” he adds further. Getting written confirmation and cross checking with third parties will ensure that providers invest appropriately. Keith explains that while the process may be slightly more rigorous, it pays off in the end.
Over the past twenty years, Frank Quinn has contributed significantly on standardizing, interconnecting and institutionalizing care delivery through health IT, helping eliminate barriers to accessibility, quality and adoption. EMR, practice management, eRx, patient portal, medical billing, compliance, privacy and security are his areas of expertise. Frank currently works in business development for CureMD.