An article published in Physicians Practice poses an interesing question.
Do EMRs Make you a Better Doctor?
Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, a health economist and management consultant, who serves as president of the healthcare IT consulting firm THINK-Health, stresses the importance of using an EMR to its fullest capacity. “You can spend all the money you want on [an EHR], but if you don’t implement it fully or teach people how to use it fully, that’s the secret of the sauce right there. You can’t buy an EHR without spending a lot of money and time on implementation,” she says. “It doesn’t work by itself. You’ve got to train people to use it and re-engineer your processes and your work flow after you adopt it.” Do it right, though, and your EMR really can pay off.
Evans Medical Group in Evans, Ga., adopted EMR technology 12 years ago. The project was championed by primary-care physician Robert Lamberts; the difference in the quality of care offered before and after implementation was marked. Pre-EMR, he says, “we had no mechanism to improve quality. We had a single record that may or may not have accurate info in it.” But today, he can say with full confidence that “our practice outperforms most practices on quality measures by at least 50 percent, and we out earn most practices; we’re in the top 5 percent of income for primary care.”
My experience in talking with physicians who have implemented an EMR is that there is a ramp-up phase for the first 6-12 months after implementation when physicians are just getting used to the workflows, getting prescriptions written and notes captured. There is not a great deal of focus initially in driving efficiencies or higher value out of the EMR. That usually comes in year 2 or a bit later.
Implementing an EMR is not like installing a vacuum cleaner. You cannot just plug it in and know intiuitively what to do. Similarly, the data that is used for analysis and improvement purposes needs to be correctly recorded to provide greatest value. I was talking earlier today with a colleague and regular contributor to CanadianEMR, Dr. Karim Keshavjee. He was discussing his current focus on Data Discipline and how physicians can ensure that data is recorded in their EMRs in the best format to be useful in population health, recalls and chronic disease management. The area of Data Discipline will be covered in a future Podcast.
Have you experienced the frustration of wanting to use your EMR for practice improvement only to find that you do not have your data stored correctly so that it can be easily queried?
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