The following is a guest post by Frank Quinn.
Obamacare, the EMR revolution, the introduction to meaningful use and stimulus money – all these initiatives illustrate that healthcare is heading in the right direction. The only drawback is that in order to satisfy meaningful use requirements and be HIPAA compliant, one requires an EMR vendor who is certified to perform these tasks. Sadly, you will be surprised to know that there are countless certified EMR vendors in the market to choose from, and most do not perform as advertised.
Selecting an appropriate EMR vendor is like finding a needle in a haystack. Impossible. They will advertise their electronic medical records as the best in the business and would demonstrate how easy it is to customize several templates, send alerts and schedule appointments along with other fancy features. For the majority of EMR vendors, that’s as good as they can be. Once implemented, it’s a different ball game. Suddenly all those fancy features don’t work, support won’t answer and if they do, you get the run around. What first seemed to be the missing puzzle in your practice is now the main cause for concern. Electronic medical records are meant to help physicians improve care delivery, not the other way around.
If this wasn’t enough to boggle the mind, another aspect that frustrates most medical experts is the cost factor. On one hand you have your legion of free EMRs, and on the other there are those with high implementation costs and absurd license fees. A hardware installation, upgrades, staff training and start-up costs for migrating to electronic medical records is significant. Training is another vital necessity, which if not conducted properly can cause major disruptions in any practice. From the front desk administrator to the physician, each individual needs to be trained in accordance with their role and responsibilities. No longer do EMR vendors prefer visiting the practice and conducting onsite trainings; instead it’s all online. From registering a patient to the most complex of workflows, if you have a question, watch the tutorial. If you don’t get it at first, watch the tutorial. If still you think that there is a hint of confusion, simply watch the tutorial.
In order to select the right EMR one must identify the practice needs and goals. Each EMR vendor offers different functionality, feature sets and services. Though all of them are based on the same guidelines and principles, they might not be up to par. There is always that one minor detail missing which completes the workflow, and to make that happen you have to either request for an update (good luck with that) or just wait for the EMR vendor to finally put it in. It’s at this point, that you lose your calm and make the second worst decision of your medical career of dumping your current EMR vendor and switch to another vendor. After being completely manipulated by the next EMR vendor, you finally decide that this EMR is the one and have it implemented, only to regret the decision further down the road.
Hence the conclusion, that although healthcare IT has taken huge strides to deliver quality care, there are still issues which need to be addressed in order to succeed.
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