From EMR Vendors: Fact or Fiction?

The Economic Stimulus legislation has presented an incredible opportunity for EMR vendors. Unfortunately, it seems that some of them are taking advantage of it by giving out misleading information and applying scare tactics so that practices will purchase their EMRs. Below is a sampling of such statements, which have been forwarded to me by physicians asking whether they are “fact or fiction.”

Have you had similar experiences? Please share them by submitting a comment at the bottom of this post.

What some EMR reps are saying:

  • “The government is requiring you to buy an EMR.” This one is a scare tactic since participation is voluntary.Section 3006 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act specifically states “…nothing in such Act or in the amendments made by such Act shall be construed to require a private entity to adopt or comply with a standard or implementation specification adopted under section 3004.”
  • “Your EMR must be CCHIT-certified to qualify for the incentive payments.” I hate to use the word “lying” but this statement comes close since the legislation neither identifies standards nor mentions any particular credentialing body, including CCHIT. The HIT Standards Committees, which just had its first meeting on May 15, is charged with recommending an initial set of certification standards by December 31, 2009. Recently, there has been a surge of rhetoric in the media expressing dissatisfaction with CCHIT, so it is by no means a foregone conclusion that CCHIT certification will be required.
  • “Simply buy a CCHIT-certified product, and you will qualify for the Stimulus money.” This remark is similar to “I have a great stock to sell you”—because EHR incentive payments are not guaranteed. Simply purchasing a “certified” EHR is not sufficient; the incentives require you to demonstrate “meaningful use” of the EHR every year, and to do so in the manner specified by and to the satisfaction of the government. “Meaningful use” has not yet been fully defined, and the legislation states that the requirements are to become more stringent over the period covered by the law.
  • “You must act now—buy an EHR now because in order to get the money from the government, you must be using the EMR by 2011.” As with used-car salesmen, “buy now” is always popular, but you actually have until 2013 to implement and potentially qualify for the lion’s share of the incentives. Even if you do not implement until 2014 (5 years from now), you would still be eligible for almost 80% of the money.

Have you heard any of these statements of “fact”? My advice: Do your due-diligence. Make sure you understand the real facts about the legislation and find an EMR that meets the needs of your practice. Have you heard other statements of “fiction?”—Please share them by submitting a comment at the bottom of this post.

Life After De-installing CCHIT

Our recent announcement regarding a practice that has decided to de-install their existing CCHIT-certified EMR and replace it with the SRS hybrid EMR has been referred to as “gutsy” in the HISTalk blog and has generated a tremendous amount of interest. The determination to move away from a CCHIT-certified product may seem surprising in light of the Economic Stimulus Plan, but this is just the most recent in a series of de-installs/conversions that we have successfully completed.

SRS has been approached by an increasing number of practices interested in replacing their traditional EMRs with a hybrid EMR. This trend is dominated by high-performance, high-volume practices, even in the face of the government’s apparent interest in CCHIT-type EMRs.

These practices share a number of common experiences. They selected and purchased their EMR with high expectations and confidence that it would be implemented successfully throughout their practice and deliver a substantial ROI in a reasonable timeframe. Despite their best efforts to make it work, they have been frustrated by the inability to achieve universal adoption and to realize the anticipated benefits.

Although individual physicians within the practice may have been successful in using the CCHIT EMR, the majority have not embraced the technology. In almost all cases, the practice has not eliminated its transcription costs or changed its coding, which had been the driving forces for the purchase of an EMR initially. Physicians are still dictating their notes, refusing to be forced into productivity-sapping templating of patient exams.

In addition, practices are experiencing one of two things. They are either running simultaneous paper and EMR chart systems, experiencing the worst of both worlds, or they are using their EMR as a crude document management system. In many cases, they are still overrun with paper and the accompanying costly filing demands. Anticipated ROI has not materialized.

As our clients who found themselves in this position have testified, transitioning to a hybrid EMR can be accomplished relatively quickly and easily. Our hybrid EMR is built on a non-proprietary, OpenPath™ foundation, which allows for an easy, one-time transfer of data from the CCHIT EMR to the hybrid EMR. The transition to the hybrid EMR can be accomplished without repeating the protracted implementation process experienced by these practices with their first (and sometimes second) CCHIT EMR. Physicians quickly adopt the hybrid EMR and the practices quickly move toward realizing a true ROI.