Dr. Rob Lamberts recently blogged about how EMR adoption is finally reaching a point where the media is covering it more and people are actually adopting the technology. It was interesting to see how he thought that they were near this point 10 years ago and yet was wrong. Here’s his reasons why he thought we are now ready to embrace EMR:
1. Technology is finally mainstream. Most doctors have computers in their homes with broadband connections. That could not be said 10 years ago. Most Americans have shopped online (some of us prefer it), send e-mail regularly, and even blog (although the latter is reserved for the real geeks!) 10 years ago it was still novel to use computers, now they are a regular part of our lives.
2. Computers are faster. This allows applications such as voice recognition, and allows for much more complex functions of the EMR (such as disease management) without causing a serious slow-down workflow.
3. Memory. Now we can scan and store huge amounts of documents without worrying about using up memory.
4. More mature EMR products. A lot of this is due to the integration of the internet into the products, allowing much of the content to be outsourced. The programming languages (such as Java, XML, and AJAX) are also a lot faster, requiring less processor to accomplish tasks.
5. A new generation of decision makers. Doctors who are in their 40’s and 50’s are now more computer friendly than they were in the past. These are generally the decision makers in a practice.
6. Pioneers have arrived in California.
Let me explain that last one. I see those of us who were early adopters of EMR as being like the pioneers going out west. We did not have a map and did not know what the place we were going to was like, but we had the belief that it would make our lives better. There were many casualties along the way (which prevented others from wanting to try the journey), but some of us got there and are finally prospering. Now we can give the best route to California and cause people to get here without as much peril as we underwent. We can send a map.
I loved the California example because if you think about many of the early EMR adopters you realize that they were looking for Gold. However, the Gold was in the form of seeing more patients, higher reimbursement rates and other effeciencies gained by using an EMR. I’m sure a number of them found this rare “Gold”, but like in the California Gold rush I think that many EMR adopters and espescially the early adopters pioneered ground at great loss to them. However, because of their loss we are all better able to use an EMR now. Thank you EMR pioneers.
While I think Dr. Lamberts has a pretty good list I think there is one glaring reason missing from his list. So, here’s my number 1 reason for more widespread EMR adoption:
The cost of servers and technology in general is significantly less.
10 years ago a server would often cost $20,000 with a slow processor, a small hard drive and very little RAM. Thanks to Dell(and I’m sure many others) you can now buy a server with Windows Small Business server for $3000-$4000. That’s an incredible offer. Install linux instead of windows and you have even greater savings. A desktop can easily be bought for around $500 these days. I believe hese lowered costs is the biggest reasons EMR’s are becoming much more common.