Over the last few years we have worked with doctors from different specialties and backgrounds. So it’s not surprising that each one of them have their own unique view of the issues facing the healthcare industry and specifically small practices. There have been some factors impacting provider participation in EMRs and we wanted to pass along what we have learned from the provider’s point of view. These challenges will impact how doctors will continue to adopt new technology and get on the bus for federal and state initiatives.
The first hurdle, not unlike any business, has been the cost of these systems. Some providers do not have enough cash on hand to make the substantial capital investment in infrastructure and software. There is always additional investment in training and support. Return on Investment (ROI) might take a while but with incentives available, practices are able to soften the blow in the first few years. There are many financing options available as well.
Another issue is the understanding and involvement in meaningful use. This presents a new challenge to doctors and staff especially with reporting periods fast approaching. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has really only focused helping eligible professionals leaving some of the specialties that do not qualify for money, outside, looking in. Many doctors have commented that time and adequate training are the two elements that are sometimes lacking. Providers in small practices are hesitant to implement new EMR systems because they fear a dip in revenue which affects the bottom line. There is a learning curve that must be accounted for in every system. Staying well-informed about new ways to document a patient will eventually lead to quicker assessments and encounters.
Moving from paper based charts to a digital system will also involve scanning old charts into the EMR. It has been our experience that not all the information needs to be scanned. The data that is critical to the patient’s treatment should be the important first step. Some offices have a perfected a system to organize the paper chart with these critical elements before it is scanned, helping to provide an orderly and systematic approach to this time consuming task.
Iron Comet Consulting is a certified Platinum Reseller for McKesson and is located in Stockbridge Georgia. We are a full service medical IT and billing company. We specialize in electronic medical record (EMR) technology and implementation.