April 18, 2012
EHR adoption has doubled since 2008, but some doctors still delay implementing electronic health records. The logic behind EHRs is strikingly clear, and the industry as a whole knows that eventually all doctor’s offices will be digital. Despite this, doctors still hesitate.
This hesitation can be summed up in one word: fear. Fear that implementation will fail, fear that the change will negatively impact patients, fear that workflow will never resume its normal efficiency. Practices don’t want to begin the long and arduous process of EHR implementation, assuming that their experience will be just as disastrous as those they’re hearing about on the news or among colleagues. Further, it seems that for every study touting the benefits of EHR, another one is published refuting those claims.
But the EHR implementation process isn’t about someone else’s experience, or the conflicting “evidence” released by the press; it’s about what is best for a practice. Doctors risk losing patients if they don’t have digital office technology. Practices could be penalized for not demonstrating meaningful use. Healthcare was slow to switch electronic medical records, but its current rate of progress threatens to leave unprepared practices behind.
With the government offering up to $64,000 to qualifying physicians for demonstrating meaningful use of certified EHR technology, there is no better time than now to make the change. Practices that are adequately prepared for the change are much less likely to experience setbacks during or after implementation.
The best way to prepare for an EHR change is to do your research: narrow your options down to two or three vendors and ask those vendors for referrals. Involve your entire staff in the selection process and make sure your selected vendor offers the training you need.
Fear of potential problems will not stop the inevitable—widespread EHR adoption—but doctors can learn from the experiences of others to prevent problems before they happen. Most importantly, however, is that an EHR is a crucial piece to the healthcare of not just the future, but the present.