Physician Support Essential
Another barrier to EMR usage is lack of support from practice physicians, according to a study by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Center for Research, University of Minnesota School of Public Health. In addition to cost worries, some doctors are concerned about loss of productivity during the transition, whereas others are uncertain about the ability of physicians to use the technology.
Explore This IssueJanuary 2007
The first step starts at the top, with buy-in among the practice leaders, Dr. Upchurch said. In today’s business world, such a ‘top-down’ attitude may seem anachronistic, but the scale of an EMR’s implementation and the emotional magnitude that can accompany it require steadfast direction from those who have made the decision.
I purposely did not pick the product myself, Dr. Kuppersmith said. I made sure that every doctor-we had four at the time-looked at a variety of products and made the decision. There has to be buy-in from everybody or you end up in big trouble.
He added that people don’t like to change. An EMR not only changes what the physician does, but also what most people in the office do.
Although physician buy-in may be more difficult in a larger practice, Ms. Eddy said that all 27 members (25 doctors and two physician assistants) of her practice came on board. You have to have 100 percent physician buy-in and intimate physician participation in the integration process. There has to be a designated implementation team that includes physicians, and is empowered and supported by the rest of the group.
Why Go to All the Trouble?
There are hundreds of EMR systems available. An excellent source that describes EMRs and what they do is BuyerZone.com (www.buyerzone.com/software/electronic-records/buyers_guide1.html ). This site and other references note the many advantages of EMRs: they reduce mistakes; replace paper patient charts with computer records; automatically capture each and every service; store physician notes, X-rays, prescriptions, and other medical information; remove time-consuming dictation and transcription; and seamlessly move data from the back office to the billing staff.
In written testimony about EMRs to the US House of Representatives in April 2006, Jack Price, Vice President of Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics, said, Simple things such as replacing the bad handwriting of harried physicians move health care providers toward more accurate treatment of patients while reducing the time staff and pharmacists devote to dealing with drug interactions or prescribing issues.