In response to Joseph Conn's "Little change in overall EHR adoption: study":
As the sales manager for a growing opthalmologic electronic medical-record software company, I can tell you that the results of the survey mirror my experience in working with the one- to five-physician office market.
All physicians know they must have good practice-management systems in order to run a tight ship and they know that having systems that help process claims and record payments and the like are vital to their practices, but they continue to view EMRs as a "luxury" item. Therefore, most small physician offices are moving forward in the EMR line as they would in a line for a tetanus shot. They know they need to have it to be protected and safe, but just the thought of the pain involved makes them put it off until the last possible moment.
I recently returned to school and had to write a research paper. I graduated from college more than 20 years ago, so writing a research paper with today's technology was quite different, and after compiling my data, I wrote the paper in a few hours compared with what would have taken me weeks to complete 20 years ago.
I look at EMR technology in much the same way. EMRs offer physicians the opportunity to continue doing what they do best, which is treating patients. At the same time they can enhance that physician's life by changing the way in which they do their work, so that they don't spend as much time doing time-intensive duties like dictation, writing notes by hand, pulling charts to review notes, calling for laboratory results, writing prescriptions by hand, paying for additional office space to house medical records that could be stored and backed up electronically, paying for transcriptionists and related personnel expenses, and a myriad other consequences related to continuing "business as usual."
EMR software can offer physicians freedom and more personal time in their lives. They offer time with family. They allow physicians to access patient medical records from remote locations, such as their homes or while they're on vacation.
I've personally seen the freedom and flexibility that an EMR can offer to the small, independent physician office. I understand physician concerns about interconnectivity between systems, and it's a realistic concern, but to avoid EMR adoption because of that is akin to throwing the baby out with the bath water.
We are on the verge of a new way that the small physician office can manage the paperwork involved in running a medical practice while at the same time continue delivering services to patients in cost-effective ways. EMR software will be an integral part of helping to save time and to cut expenses. Good EMR software can help the physician document the patient record comprehensively and legibly, and can produce forms that can be easily transmitted with the touch of a button to other physician offices, labs, insurance payers, etc. Better documentation means the ability to withstand audits with confidence, to be able to justify coding levels, and to get paid faster and easier for the work they do. After all, when it comes down to it, aside from providing great patient care, being a doctor is about better documentation and getting paid the highest amount possible for the work that has been performed. An EMR can help physicians realize these benefits.
Is making the transition to an EMR costly? As with any overhaul of an existing system, time and expense are involved, but once systems are in place and things are operating at peak performance, the time and other savings are realized exponentially. For the emerging physician, EMR adoption is easy. They start off their practice on the right foot, and they're saving time and other expenses right from the onset of opening their practices.
EMRs are here to stay and will be forced upon medical providers by the government in our not-too-distant future. Early adoption can help providers reap many rewards and benefits. As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention ...
Jamie ZayachNational sales managereyeTeknix EMR To submit a letter to YOUR VIEWS, click here. Please include your name, title and hometown.