For years primary care settings have been the benchmark for EMR design. By targeting broad clinical workflows and generic user requirements, vendors were able to design a universal product for electronic documentation. However, with time demand for such applications has diminished. Built to deal with routine visits and appointments, the generic EMR model just did not suit the specialist requirements.
Frustrated with system restrictions and blockades, most specialist sought out bespoke solutions. This trend forced the new generation of template driven EMRs. With added customizability, providers were able to configure template designs to a great extent. Established vendors started working with specialist groups in efforts to create specialty specific solutions, changing the market dynamics in the process.
However, despite the surge in specialty electronic medical records, utilization is limited at best. Many organizations still are attempting to make use of generic applications amidst system failures and poor outcomes. Ray Parker an EMR implementation expert explains that there are three main reasons why specialty specific EMR adoption is still low, “One, most specialists are already invested in standard solutions. Two, most specialists would not consider such applications as mature products. After all there are specialties within specialties, and then every specialty has their own way of operation. Three, specialist workflow is too intricate for extensive automation.”
But with that said, specialists can’t keep working around electronic medical records. Healthcare is evolving, and with its sights on coordinated care the industry has to adapt accordingly, embracing reform and technology. As specialist referral providers will need to coordinate with primary care physicians and extend care beyond their walls. Performance driven payments will promote care continuity and increase patient-physician interaction. In order to achieve these measures and deliver accountable care, providers will require health IT.
However, it is not all that bleak. Specialty EMRs have come a long way since inception as most vendors continually work with their users to improve designs and better cater specialty workflows. Intelligent data capturing through the use of picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) and connected medical devices has made the provider job easier. Many EMR vendors now provide interactive animated screens that simplify the diagnosis and documentation process. Templates are updated with relevant diagnosis and procedural codes and workflow is constructed to suit specialized encounters. The EMR market thrives on innovation and given enough time specialty products are likely to make their own mark.
- Seeing Through EMR Gimmicks (emrdailynews.com)