In the course of putting together a tips piece today for ambulatory care facilities moving from paper medical records to electronic health records, I heard a speaker make a very telling comment that underscores one benefit of electronic records the bean counters will have a hard time quantifying in dollars and cents – yet is very real: EHR systems can act as a tool to attract better physicians to your practice.
That statement came from the Virginia Women’s Center’s Dr. Kathryn Stout, MBA, in a presentation at the HIMSS10 annual conference. Her facility took eight years to select and roll out an EHR system, partly because she and her colleagues wanted to take their time and get it right, partly because they waited for software developers to come up with a system tailored specifically for obstetrical-gynecological practices like theirs.
After going through the pain and suffering of the EHR implementation, measuring costs saved and experiencing unexpected safety benefits – such as being able to react much more quickly to recalls of drugs and diagnostic equipment than peers still marooned in paper records, possibly saving lives in the process – the center enjoys one unexpected benefit of going paperless it didn’t expect: Obstetricians considering coming to work for the facility see its EHR system as a benefit of employment. Well, maybe it’s not the EHR system that is the benefit per se, but the fact that the pain and suffering are in the rear-view mirror.
“Having an electronic system has now become mandatory for physician recruitment,” Stout said. “It’s either the newbies coming out magically know the wisdom of an EHR system, or they’re just not brave enough to go through an implementation.” At HIMSS, of course, she was preaching to the choir, but it got a good laugh just the same.