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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Oct 17 2011   8:50PM GMT

6 reasons not having an EHR will put your practice at risk



Posted by: RedaChouffani
EHR, EHR adoption, Electronic health records, EMR, Physician groups, risks

For many physicians who are not currently using electronic health records (EHRs), they are constantly being told through one form or the other of how EHRs will help to improve patient health, reduce their operational costs and allow them to see more patients. And study after study shows the benefits of capturing patient health information electronically.

But as we continue to see EHR flyers and marketing brochures outlining the benefits of switching from paper charts, we can pause and recognize that there are factors other than the typical benefit that will eventually drive physicians to seriously consider adopting EHR technology. There are several reasons that can put a medical organization who still relies on paper chart at risk, especially considering the transformation that is currently happening the US health care system.

The following is a list of six items that can put paper-based practices at risk in the near future if they don’t adopt an EHR:

  1. More patients will be asking for it: As more patients get exposed to the benefits of their physicians using EHRs and see how health care providers can communicate as well as share medical information with them electronically (such as: X-Rays lab results, treatment plans, e-prescriptions, and PHR data), many consumers will begin asking and looking for physicians who are utilizing these technologies. This would provide many organizations with a competitive edge and enable them to differentiate themselves from others. This could also potentially penalize physicians who are not using electronic health records by losing new patients to their competitor.
  2. Telemedicine and servicing a broader geographic area: Several large health systems are beginning to provide basic health services and specialist consults over video conferencing, and for a reduce rate! Many of these services are provided via secure communication channel and do not require for the organization to have a physical office near the patient they are servicing. But many physicians who provide telehealth services will be in need of an EHR to be able to share information quickly. This provides them with a competitive advantage as they can efficiently service a broader patient base outside of their immediate community.
  3. Everyone will be collaborating but you: Some states have already implemented an HIE and as more adopt the health information exchange and some of the care delivery models, many physicians are starting to exchange and collaborate on care. These physicians are able to receive complete patient summary of record electronically and share their information about a patient with others as well. This is also the vehicle that will used by physicians to communicate and collaborate on care as well. But for physicians who are still paper based, they may encounter more challenges when attempting to collaborate and be a member of the care team for certain patient population.
  4. Using remote health monitoring to manage chronic conditions: Given the increase in patients with chronic diseases and need for chronic care management, in additon to the current competitive market, many health organizations are looking to adopt technologies to assist with remote patient monitoring services. They are exploring new ways to capture health information and monitor patient vitals in real time, remotely, though these technologies would require physicians to have some sort of EHR in place to be able to transmit the information.
  5. Recruiting new physicians: As part of the medical school curriculum, many new graduating physicians have had exposure to electronic medical records. This would most likely suggest that many of them would favor practices and health organizations utilizing EHR for their future employment opportunities. This would make it difficult for paper-based practices to recruit talent.
  6. Penalties, employers and payers will demand it: Some of the current incentives through MU may not fully cover the costs associated with software and hardware for a new EHR, however some predict that penalties and lower reimbursements may cause more heartburn for physicians who elect to stay with paper charts. These pressures will continue to mount, as there is an increasing push for modernizing the US healthcare.

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