Expensive EMR Systems with Serious Shortcomings

In Washington, where partisan bickering over how to revive the economy flares on several fronts, sweet consensus reigns of heath-tech spending … lawmakers cheer electronic records as a business-based remedy for much that ails medical care … That rare agreement, however, is obscuring the checkerboard history of computerized medical files and drowning out legitimate questions about their effectiveness. Cerner, based in Kansas City, MO., and other industry leaders are pushing expensive systems with serious shortcomings, some doctors say. The high cost and questionable quality of products currently on the market are important reasons why barely 1 in 50 hospitals has a comprehensive electronic records system, according to a study published in March in the New England Journal of Medicine. Only 17% of physicians use any type of electronic records. – Chad Terhune, BusinessWeek, May 4, 2009, The Dubious Promise of Digital Medicine: Why huge spending on electronic records won’t produce quick improvements in efficiency or care.

I have to agree with the above assessment.

“Industry leaders are pushing expensive systems with serious shortcomings” and
”The high cost and questionable quality of products currently on the market are important reasons why” … many hospitals and physician groups do not use EMRs.

I am interested in hearing your opinion on this matter. I believe that there are great systems out there. Why are they so hard to find? Why aren’t doctors finding them, buying them and using them?

About the author


Dr. Jeff


  • I don’t think doctors have made much of an effort to find the best sytems or they are initimidated by having to sort through so many (over 400). Many timese they will rely on a consultant who directs them to the big companies (with a kick back) or they will rely on the hospital people who only consider companies big enough to support their voracious needs.

    It is time doctors start to find ways to find EMRs that are more affordable and usable. Hopefully the stimulus package will incentivise doctors to really start looking for better systems.

  • […] I spent some time brainstorming quickly some ideas I will include in an e-Book I’m writing on EMR selection. I thought I’d post some of the ideas here so people could provide some feedback on other topics that should be included in a guide to selecting the right EMR. Remember these are just brainstormed ideas, but I’d really appreciate getting your feedback on topics you would like to or have liked to know when selecting an EMR. Something really needs to be done to improve the EMR selection process for doctors. […]

  • Doctors are flooded with the outrageous number of EMR’s for each practice or specialty. I agree to a point that the source a Consultant and unfortunately a BAD Consultant pushes a recommendation based on a financial incentive even though it’s the wrong solution. The other issue is that with all the Specialties out there they do not use the same billing codes or practice medicine similarly, e.g. Oncology vs. Internal Medicine, or Dermatology vs. Dental (although most would argue Dentistry is not “Healthcare.” The Government has defined who qualifies for the incentive; however has not defined “Meaningful Use.” Which causes even more hesitation on a Doctor or Administrator spending the time to research a EMR’s. Doctors NEED to look for CCHIT 2008 Certified EMR for their Specialty, look for something that fits how they currently practice medicine without having to re-learn the way they do business (from the front office to the back office), and they need a solution that is easily customizable. A GREAT Consultant will research and find the right solutions, for the Doctor or Client and ensure that they are their from Conception to Inception to Customization to Implementation and CONTINUOUSLY through the Support. What good is an EMR if you can’t practice medicine and you have to continually manage the support or customization.

  • Physicians are putting too much emphasis on “software” selection. Bottom line – software is software and most EMR software will work.

    However, customization, training, and implementation will be the determining factor in whether your ehr is a success.

    I provide real examples of failures in these areas at my website: http://www.electronicmedicalrecords-emr.com.

    I know of some electronic medical records vendors right now who offer only 3 days of on site training, while others offer 6 months of on site training.

    Which would you rather have – 3 days or 6 months?

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