EMR Backlog

I’ve gotten a couple emails from people suggesting that I should write about the current and potential EMR backlog that is happening in the healthcare IT industry. It’s something I’ve discussed tangentially when talking about EMR and the ARRA EMR stimulus money. Basically, some EMR companies have been making the case that doctors and clinics need to make there EMR selection now in order to avoid the EMR backlog that will occur for an EMR vendor once we know the full details of “certified EHR” and “meaningful use.”

Dr. Jeff at EMR and EHR pointed me to a section of the newsletter by XLEMR that provides another perspective on the EMR backlog.

Once preliminary certification begins in October, EHR demand should surge. Although the market is currently slow, many vendors have installation backlogs. Preliminary certification may cause those backlogs to increase. Physicians who are in the “wait and see” mode will need to make a decision quickly. Waiting could result in long delays that may jeopardize the ability to qualify for the first year of reimbursements. One alternative is to purchase a simple system. Simple systems take much less time to install, so backlogs are not a problem. Simple systems are also easier to learn, meaning you do not use as much valuable time for training instead of seeing patients. Finally, simple systems are easy to use, giving you more time to qualify for meaningful use. Be sure to ask any EHR vendor if they have any backlogs, and how long it takes to implement their system. Their answer will tell you if their system is simple.

This type of tongue and cheek style of writing is right up my alley. It makes a really interesting point and you can’t help but laugh when you get to the end.

Some might argue that the EMR is so good that the demand for it is so high and that’s what creates the EMR backlog and not the fact that the EMR isn’t simple to use and requires a lot of training and work to implement. I’d suggest that the EMR backlog is probably a combination of high demand for that EMR and the EMR not being very easy to implement/use. However, the high demand for most of the EMRs with a backlog has little to do with how great the EMR is and has more to do with that EMR company’s ability to market and sell their EMR.

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.


  • These backlogs are a symptom of outdated client-server based technology. Other symptoms include high cost and slow updates/new release cycles.

    Practice Fusion has no backlog and won’t in the fall either. Providers sign up on-line and can begin charting the same day. No IT support is needed, nor is it necessary to purchase new hardware…if you’ve got a machine that connects to the Internet, you’re good to go.

    Glenn Laffel MD, PhD
    Sr. VP Clinical Affairs
    Practice Fusion
    Free Web-based EHR

  • “No IT support is needed, nor is it necessary to purchase new hardware…if you’ve got a machine that connects to the Internet, you’re good to go.”

    You definitely might need IT support. In fact, it’s quite likely you’ll still need some IT support. It’s fair to say you’ll need less IT support.

    You also might need to buy new hardware if you want to access your EMR in more places than where you currently have computers.

    The other points are pretty well made and highlight the point of no back logs. I’d like to see Practice Fusion’s backlog of feature requests. Every EMR vendor has that;-)

  • John…if I may, the great majority of physicians that have signed up for our free, Web-based EHR have not required IT support.

    For the few that prefer for whateve reason to have a hand to hold (certainly understandable) at any time, Practice Fusion has partnerships with various consulting organizations that can help with this.

    …and there are no back logs…honest! If you’re a doctor and you still don’t believe it, just go ahead and sign up on our Web site…it takes minutes, and you can begin charting pretty much immediately.

    I should add that we’ve got a raft of instructional videos and tutorials (also free), and a help-desk (free) in case you run into problems.

    Glenn Laffel MD PhD
    Practice Fusion

  • Glenn,
    I’m sure that many doctors have done very well without IT support. I know many doctors who are incredibly technical. However, you made it sound almost like IT wasn’t necessary. The reality is that IT support is often needed for networking, printer setup, scanners, shared drives, fax server, etc etc etc that could be very beneficial to a doctor’s office using an EMR. In fact, many are in old buildings with little planning for IT and so there are costs and IT support needed to get even a web based EMR working. Sure, wireless is great, but it’s also good to have an IT person help make sure the wireless is setup securely.

    I hope people don’t misunderstand me. It’s not that most of this stuff is all that technical and that doctors couldn’t do it, but it does take time to learn and setup. Most doctors I’ve met prefer not to learn it and prefer to just have some IT support do it for them. I’m all about being reasonable here. So, I try to make sure doctors reading this site get all the views.

    I agreed with you that there are no back logs for your system. No doubt web based can be much quicker to implement than a client server. However, even the best EMR requires setup. Just a question of how much.

  • Glenn,
    Can you comment on how a product like practicefusion would integrate with other existing systems an organization might have?

    Example being, a hospital system has a single managed practice that demands practicefusion. How does PracticeFusion go about working with the Hospital System on setting up the interfaces that will be needed (HL7..ect). I’m sure it’s dependent on the vendors involved….but a generic case….

    I would see that as a case of IT support being required….and grant reporting….demographic exports….list goes on…

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