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EMR facing poor take up by smaller medical practices in the USA

Misys Healthcare Systems : 19 October, 2007  (New Product)
Initial costs and usability problems are two key obstacles limiting widespread EMR adoption by smaller medical practices suggests Vern Davenport, executive vice president and general manager of Misys Healthcare Systems.
However, he points out these issues can be overcome by EMR capabilities delivered as hosted solutions.

Although EMR technology is prevalent in larger hospitals and medical practices, adoption has lagged among smaller medical practices and solo healthcare providers. Just 17 percent of physician offices are using EMR systems, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

“This slow EMR adoption rate means a vital segment of the healthcare industry medical practices with 10 or fewer doctors that account for 80 percent of all patient visits lags behind the rest of the industry in using technology that can reduce costs and improve patient care,” said Davenport.

Physicians in smaller practices often cite initial costs and difficulties in day-to-day use as top barriers to EMR adoption. In fact, many current EMR systems require a significant up-front investment and are not easily adjusted to reflect the preferred work practices of smaller medical offices.

EMR and Practice management solutions delivered via the software as a service (SaaS) model are gaining in popularity, and will accelerate EMR adoption in smaller medical practices. This approach provides EMR capabilities securely over the Internet to small practices, and does not require a large initial capital investment in hardware, software or installation. Because the EMR system is located remotely in a secure, world class data centre, users benefit from the ability to depend on IT professionals to run the system remotely, allowing physicians and their staff to spend more time delivering quality care to their patients.

A hosted EMR service allows small practices to pay for advanced capabilities through a predictable, monthly bill. Upfront costs are greatly reduced and physician practices need not be involved in system upgrades, repairs and ongoing IT maintenance.

Usability concerns are another primary reason for slow adoption of EMRs by medical practices. Among the usability issues cited by smaller practices are: inability of the EMR to integrate with the practice’s billing and claims system; lack of necessary skills or training among staff; inability to easily input historic patient records; and physicians’ inability to input information into the EMR.

“Misys Healthcare Systems has had nearly 30 years of experience working with physicians in practices of all sizes, including smaller medical practices,” said Davenport. “These practices have their own, often unique ways of handling documentation, patient interactions and patient records. It works for them and they’re reluctant to change. Physicians have told us that they want an EMR that works the way they do.”

An effective EMR system for this market must be flexible enough to customise the user’s experience and accommodate the different work styles of multiple users. Providers and staff members must be able to easily see the visit notes, appointments and messages that are most important to them. These improvements to user features, coupled with the attractive cost aspects inherent in a hosted system, identify the kind of EMR solution necessary to successfully overcome the barriers to small-practice EMR adoption.

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