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Well-meaning Efforts

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 13, 2012
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This article appears in the March 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

In our January 2011 Intelligence Report, E-Health Systems: Opportunities and Obstacles, most healthcare leaders (51%) said a realistic time frame to see industrywide quality of care improve as a result of meaningful use regulations was two to five years away, but a significant number (44%) said six years or more is more realistic. What do you see as the major obstacles to a robust EHR, and what can industry leaders do to achieve meaningful use sooner rather than later?

Virgil Bourne
Administrator, The Family Physicians, Iola, KS

We have been documenting care in certain slots in the medical record, but we found that when we ran reports, that was not where the meaningful use software pulled the results. We had to adjust where we were documenting. It requires some additional time in doing the documentation. Productivity is reduced because providers are responsible for entering documentation, which requires them to enter various fields in the EMR to input data.

But overall EHR is going about as fast as it can. It is a very expensive proposition. There is money set aside to help with start-ups. We did it without that initiative because we felt it was the best thing to do with multiple locations. It allowed us to have immediate access from any location regardless of where the patient was being seen, even the emergency room.

It is something that is the right thing to do. The financial incentives are great, but they aren't going to cover the costs. If somebody goes into it thinking it is going to cover all the costs, they are shortsighted. It is expensive with all the computers and file servers and cabling and software packaging and continual software updates and other modules like patient portals and e-prescribing and other additional expenses.

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