Healthcare Billing and HIPAA Impede EMR Progress

I had this post in my drafts from a long long time ago. It linked to an article that is no longer relevant. However, I still think the title is incredible relevant. I was talking with someone this week about the real problem with EMR software is that they have to jump through the crazy billing requirements. Although, you could certainly add in the HIPAA requirements in some regards as well.

We can all appreciate the need to protect patients information. Plus, while HIPAA has some issues, I think it could be much worse. So, I can’t say I can really complain about the HIPAA requirements as they relate to EMR.

Instead, I’ll focus this post on the crazy billing requirements that doctors have to jump through in order to be reimbursed for their work.

Now, imagine the beautiful EMR interface that could be created if everything about the EMR software was focused on patient care and physician workflow. I’d love for someone to do a study on what percentage of EMR functions are there because of the onerous billing requirements. I think we’d be shocked to find out how many of them are there because of billing.

I’ve covered this topic from a lot of different angles before. It just keeps coming back to me over and over again. So, until I find someone who has a fix for it, I’m going to keep bringing it up.

Of course, I wonder if 3 years down the road I’ll be writing a post talking about how meaningful use is impeding EMR progress. Then, I’ll be interested in a study that looks at how many features of an EMR were needlessly added thanks to meaningful use.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, 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,, 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.


  • Since billing is where the money is it tends to be the center of hospital focus. Of all the reporting jobs I have been contacted, Professional billing and hospital billing are the most common. I wouldn’t quite say billing impede EMR progress but rather lots of resources are dedicated to billing. I am just not sure whether those resources will be allocated to another aspect (e.g. patient care) even if billing is simplified.

  • plin,
    You’re right that it will be focused on billing. However, without crazy insurance requirements, maybe they could start focusing on billing for things that people should be paying for (ie. e-visits).

    Dr. West,
    Interesting post. It’s amazing that we let insurance companies do what they do. Although, I guess in some ways they’re working in the consumers best interests and paying doctors as little as possible. Certainly there’s some middle ground to it, but we’re not close.

  • Dr. West,
    My firm is looking to transition to an EHR. I’ve been doing a lot of research to figure out what we can expect. You’re the first person I’ve seen who has brought up billing as a source of the issue, most people seem to be focusing on EHR meaningful use Could you give some examples of how billing causes problems?

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