EMR the 4 Letter Word

Adam Sharp, MD, Founder of par80 and SERMO, has come out swinging on his relatively new blog for his new company par80. One of his first blog posts talked about why EMR is a four letter word for most doctors. The thing is he’s right in many ways.

The first thing he does is debunk the 50% EHR adoption number that’s gone around and been propagated by the ONC and others:

The 50% adoption rates seen in the first link reflect the presence of ANY type of an EMR-like technology. While it is a great headline for sure, the second link shows that this is an overly broad declaration. When we look at “fully functional systems,” meaning they are being used for a full work-flow solution, we get numbers in the low teens instead. (When you subtract out unique situations such as Kaiser, the VA, and a few large independent doctor networks, I suspect the actual number is much lower.)

I personally put EHR adoption at about 25%, but now we’re quibbling over small percentages. Either way, it’s quite low. Adam describes the real challenge that EHR vendors face and how they can remove the 4 letter word connotation of EMR:

Widespread adoption of an EMR (or multiple compatible EMRs) that is intuitive and easy to use, that empowers the end user and patients, and that actually helps to make the healthcare system more efficient would be a good thing for doctors, patients, and the industry. However, unless we recognize what the ultimate goals are and better involve the people most critical to their effective use (physicians), I believe Jonathan’s prediction will be true and cash-for-clunkers applied to the healthcare sector will turn out about as successful as that other government program…TARP.

I think this trend is changing for many EHR vendors that really are trying to focus on the physician, but sadly have this huge distraction called meaningful use. Plus, we are having more doctors write about their good experience with EHR. The more doctors that can say that their desk is clean, their life is better, and they have more time, the more we’re going to see EHR adoption really increase.

Unfortunately, there’s still far too many poorly implemented, poorly selected and poorly accepted EHR implementations out there. This is a tough problem to solve particularly in this government incentivized environment. I think I read recently in a passing tweet something about HIMSS soliciting for more EHR success stories. I don’t think a manufactured list of EHR success stories is going to do the trick. Although, it’s true that EHR failure stories spread faster than EHR success stories.

What do you think will shift the tide of EHR adoption? Is the EHR incentive money going to be enough to change it? We’ve certainly seen some increase in EHR adoption from the EHR stimulus, but will it be enough and in the right direction?

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.