Excuses for Not Implementing an EMR Don’t Change

Yes, you might have noticed that I’m going back through a lot of the old articles that I should have posted about previously and never did. This was a real good find from an article written back in 2002. 7 years ago and this information still rings true. The article is for the AAFP and is called “Why I Love My EMR” by William D. Soper, MD, MBA. He gives these common excuses for not implementing an EMR:

  • An EMR is too expensive
  • I don’t need an EMR to be a good doctor
  • Is it safe to keep my records on a computer?
  • What if the electricity goes off?
  • What about patient confidentiality?
  • What about HIPAA?
  • Where do I find time to learn a new system?
  • How can I convince doctors who are dragging their feet?
  • How do I find time to see patients and enter my own data?
  • What do I do with my old records?
  • How do I decide which system to buy?
  • Won’t technology improve and prices go down?

Then, he ends with his bottom line:

What’s the bottom line?
EMRs aren’t for everyone. Going digital is costly. The conversion process isn’t easy, and acquiring new skills is frustrating, hard work. However, I’ve found that transitioning to an EMR system has been worth every frustration and every penny. It has made me a better doctor, reduced my overhead, made my staff happy and pleased my patients. I can’t convince you to let go of your paper records. That’s for you to decide. But I am willing to bet that if you do, you’ll get the same results I did.

Any of the above excuses/questions look familiar to any of you?  Seems like the answers to these questions might be a good basis for a book.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • This may have been true a few years ago (EMRs being hard to install and harder to use), but in 2009 EMRs have to be simple and intuitive. EMRs have to be easy to use and they have to be helpful. I don’t want an EMR that lengthens my day (2 minutes per patient lengthens my day by an hour) and makes my job harder! I don’t care about the payers and the government and the data collectors. I care about my patients and my ability to provide excellent care, document their care, write prescriptions and order tests, consultants and a plan of care.

    There are many EMRs today that ARE easy to use, easy to learn and don’t cost an arm and a leg! We have to find these EMRs and purchase these EMRs. We have to reward this type of EMR and punish the EMRs which force us to enter data for the data collectors, thereby wasting our time or expecting us to spend hours of uncompensated time doing things that benefit others.

    If your EMR does not save you time, you have a bad EMR. If you have to jerry-rig your EMR to get a note done at the point-of-care, while seeing the patient, you have a bad EMR. Bad EMRs will ruin our healthcare system.

  • Jeff,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. Unfortunately, things like CCHIT are certifying all these EHR and giving the impression to people that the “CCHIT certified EHR” are safe to implement and avoid all the problems you describe.

    I wonder if it wouldn’t be worth putting together a list of EMR and HIPAA approved EHR. It wouldn’t be all the good EHR, but to be on the list you’d have to prove you’re good.

  • AAFP’s Monthly Journal has user feedback about EMRs. Perhaps people who have EMRs could write into this blog and tell which EMR they have an how they like it. I am particulary interested in how long it takes to document a good note (chief complain, history of present illness, Allg, Meds, PMH, SH,FH,Habits, Vitals, PE, Ass & Plan), write a prescription, do your order entry and select your E&M code. Can you do this in less time then it took you to write a note with pen and paper?

  • I spoke with a doctor about 30 minutes ago who told me something I could not believe about EMR implementations. He said that at a hospital where he practiced an EMR system was implemented. He was then informed that of all the old paper patient records that only 10% to 15% of those records would be carried forward. He said that is was because the billing codes had to be manually entered into the new system and that only this small percentage of the data entry would be funded. He said that the physicians had to circle the the codes they felt were absolutely necessary with know assurance what would or would not be left on the cutting room floor. What’s more is that, ironically, most of this data already existed in a billing system that they had for years in the form of billing codes. Many practices are that way, he said. Where they may be lagging behind with EMR, they have had a billing system for ten years. The problem is that there is no good solution for accessing and amalgamating this data. Check out Unityware: http://www.unityware.com
    It does this beautifully. This is a brand new totally unique product that is ready to install today.

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