EMR Is About the Money

I’m really coming around on this fact. I’m not sure I should, but I am. I’m beginning to realize how big of an impact for good or bad that all this EMR stimulus money can have. Now, don’t get me wrong. I think long term there’s a lot of other benefits to EMR and I think there’s a strong case that can be made for implementing an EMR based on other EMR benefts. However, I’m starting to realize that to a large extent it is about the money.

Before the EMR stimulus came to the forefront of the EMR and HIT world, I would often be asked about EMR adoption and the trends that I’d seen in EMR adoption. I’d then start to describe that about 4 years ago when I started blogging about EMR, doctors and practices were asking the question “Should I implement EMR?” However, I’d seen a shift where doctors were now asking “how, what and which EMR should I implement?” To me this was a HUGE shift in perspectives and an important one for having widespread EMR adoption. Of course, this shift happened well before the government lit the EMR world on fire with $18 billion of EMR stimulus money.

What I’m now beginning to notice is that there’s a really strong opportunity to accelerate what was already happening. $44k per provider is a big deal for most practices interested in an EMR. The company and/or consultants that can find a simple way to gain access to this money are going to do very well and many EMR are going to be adopted during this time. I think it will be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back for many many doctors.

Basically, I see many doctors who previously said I want to implement an EMR, but… Now saying I want to implement an EMR and I want the $44k, let’s make it happen.

My only words of caution. Don’t rush the process, but don’t waste time either. Take time to find the EMR that will work best for your clinic. There are good EMR out there that will get access to the EMR stimulus money. Make sure you get both a good EMR and the EMR stimulus money.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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.


  • What do we have to do as a Family Practice Clinic (1 doctor and 2 PA) to qualify for the Obama $44K incentive???

    We keep hearing about some incentive if offices install a EMR.

    What web sites? or Publications? Do I need to look at to learn about Obama incentive program for EMR???

    Can anyone help or should I write our congressman?

    Thank you very much.
    P.S. I would give my email but I do not want sales calls. I have to deal with about 2 or 3 calls a day for EMR sales.

  • The projected cost of EMR implementation is about $66K/year/physician. For many primary care physicians, this cost is significant and reduces their incomes drastically. Well, to receive $44K as incentives over a 5-year period, a physician needs to spend about $330K. I am not sure how this is an incentive!

    The return on investment (ROI) is negative!

  • Mike,
    Good question.

    The simple answer is you have to use a “certified EHR” and show “meaningful use.” We have some indications of what this will and won’t be, but it’s still too early to tell you for certain the exact definitions of those terms since it’s still being defined. Anyone that tells you otherwise must be trying to sell you something.

    Once the final rules for those 2 all important terms comes out we’ll have a number of posts about them on this site. Here’s a link to all our posts on the subject: https://www.healthcareittoday.com/tag/arra/

    I think writing your congressman will do little. They seem to barely know what EMR is let alone how to get the EMR stimulus money.

    I think it’s fair to say that it’s a little early to know exactly what the definitions will be, but it’s likely that most of the EMR vendors will find a way to make the EMR stimulus available to you. So, might behoove you to start looking around for what you like best so that when they do have the final definitions, you can make an educated decision on which EMR to select.

  • It is about the money; the money companies don’t have to give their workers raises because of the rising cost of insurance, the money families spend on health care and can’t put toward their retirement and the money governments don’t have to reduce the debt and provide for education and other needs. It’s rather appalling that every citizen has to contribute money to cajole physicians into remediation of their costs structure, the gorilla in the room that has become a kind of national King Kong, threatening every component of our national life.

  • Charles,
    It’s an interesting time in government, that’s for sure.

    However, the EMR stimulus money is there and so everyone might as well get what they can reasonably get.

    I still think the question is out there of whether the cost to get the money is worth it.

  • I agree with John. Not all EMRs are that expensive. We recently implemented an EMR with all new hardware and the total cost was in the range of $35000 (including implementation, training, etc.). EMR not only helps increase revenues but also helps decrease costs. Check out the following article on Electronic Medical Records which illustrates different ways that implementing EMR can benefit physicians.

  • I have been comparison shopping for a CCHIT certified EMR for a solo cardology/IM practice. These companies hate to give out their prices and only after some song and dance demo. The costs I got were allscripts emr and pm $35460 over 5 years, e md over 5 year for pm/ emr 35, 059, chartmaker over 5 years 28,190.
    alscripst emr only hosted by them 27540. over 5 years.

    Has anyone comparison shopeed and found a better deal on a CCHIT ambulatory medicine EMR/Pm system?
    Can anyone suggest a cheaper solution that is CCHIT certified and good for ambulatory cardiology??

    John Hakim, MD

  • john,
    I think the real question you should be asking yourself at this point is why do you care that your EMR system is CCHIT certified? The cost to certify is so much that most of the CCHIT certified systems have to roll that cost down to you the consumer. That’s just one reason. I’ll save the rest for another time.

    I think it is reasonable for you to find an EMR system that is HHS certified, but unfortunately it’s still too early to know which EMR software are going to meet that criteria. We should have a pretty good idea in January and be quite sure of the list by Spring of next year.

    I think it would be a mistake for me to suggest specific systems without knowing more about your practice and needs. However, I can tell you that there are other cheaper EMR companies.

    I think it’s also important to know that many EMR companies are now offering different pricing models so you don’t have to front or finance $30k up front.

    I hope this is helpful.

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