After 25 years of using paper records, Winfield Young, MD, recently dove into electronic medical records for his Virginia Beach, VA, pediatric practice. "Today is the first day of training. I'm tickled pink," Young told me.
Young wants to maintain his freestanding practice and not be employed by a hospital. With an EMR, he envisions the possibility of increasing his income, and definitely more efficiency. "We see the importance of better documentation of diagnosis, and it's going to be easier to track," he says.
Independent primary care physicians often think they don't have the time, money, or resources to implement EMR, even with government subsidies. Still, they know they need to adapt to the changing environment. Patients are demanding more transparency and the government is incentivizing the shift. A growing number of physicians seem to figure they have no choice. To survive, they must opt for EMR, though they know the journey may not be easy.
Joel L. Fine, MD, of Fine & Associates in Snellville, GA, who runs a solo practice with his wife Stefanie overseeing the records, was certain for many years that he wasn't going to bother with EMR. "I fought the idea of electronic health records," Fine told me. "My feeling was: I don't need one. It doesn't help my practice; I don't see any benefit to it." Just the idea of dealing with vendors was daunting, Fine says, "with all of them geared to taking advantage of you."