Ultimately we all expect that healthcare IT will improve the quality of care and lower costs. I was *hoping* that the Meaningful Use (MU) criteria would help get us there by solving the biggest issue that we have today – low levels of provider adoption of EHR. I was *hoping* that the MU criteria, combined with the financial incentives and future penalites, would make it a no brainer for non EHR providers to drop everything and install technology this year. Here is why it won’t happen…
What has happened is that criteria have instead been created to justify the payments to providers that already use EHR. I say, write these folks a check and congratulate them, they paid their dues and jumped on the EHR bandwagon early. And instead, lets focus on the non-adopters. What would it take to get all the non-adopters who:
- are worried that their productivity will take a hit
- know other providers who have failed and are scared
- do not have the time to search for a system
- cannot afford to implement and maintain a system
- fill in your reason here…
off of the bench on into an EHR? It certainly won’t be implementing a system to track immunizations – which sounds like a fairly simple criteria but in reality is very worlflow intensive. Enter lot number, enter an expiration date, barcode scan if possible, make it easy enough that I can do this a hundred times per day in a pediatric or flu clinic. Have the patient sign a release, get the data into the primary chart (if I don’t have a complete EHR this would mean printing into a paper chart or scanning) and into the billing system, send it to the state registry… The process is just as complicated to utilize a system to track problem lists – is the problem chronic or acute? active or inactive? how does the system track problems across a multispecialty practice where each provider only wants to see their own problems? and again, how would this feature function if part of an “EHR Lite” that had to integrate with other documentation workflows.
My point is that these seemingly simple items impact provider and staff productivity to a great degree. Let’s make it easy for non-users to get into basic functionality like eRx, orders and results. Affordable, web-based products with simple implementations that can actually be supported by a regional extension center and, more importantly, can add value to a providers office. Make it easy for these folks to get into technology, show them how it can positively impact their day, then let’s worry about collecting meaningful data and adding complex functionality.
*Let the record show that I am a proponent of EHR’s and believe that anyone can obtain success in their EHR implementation if they have the right expectations, a lot of patience, an experienced implementation team, a solid scalable product, and a committed leadership team.