Healthcare News & Insights

Experts: Don’t let meaningful use choose EHR system for you

To qualify for incentive payments, healthcare organizations must implement an electronic health record (EHR) system that is certified and can be used to meet the federal requirements for meaningful use of EHRs. But one group of experts warns hospitals and practices not to base their software decisions on the meaningful use rules. 

That’s the message in the recent study, “IDC MarketScape: U.S. Ambulatory EMR/EHR for Small Practices 2012 Vendor Assessment.”

In the report, IDC estimates that more than 80% of healthcare organizations will be using EHRs by 2016, up from less than 25% that were doing so in 2009. Part of the reason for that growth is the federal incentive plan laid out by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

But that won’t be the only factor, IDC says. Organizations will also move to electronic records because of the improvements in the quality of care and patient safety they offer, as well as increased capabilities in cloud-based systems that are more appealing to smaller practices.

And those incentive payments shouldn’t be the only factor organizations use to pick which EHR system to install, IDC warns. EHR systems can offer long-term benefits in the form of cost savings and quality improvements for practices and hospitals. Focusing only on the short-term value of incentive payments will prevent organizations from getting the most out of their investments.

One big mistake organizations can make is rushing into an EHR adoption in order to begin receiving incentive payments earlier. But that plan will quickly backfire if the organization ends up with a bad fit.

Organizations should take their time choosing a system and make sure they get input from all groups that will be affected by the implementation — including clinicians, administrative staff and IT. Also, it’s important to get vendor references from organizations that have a similar size and specialty.

IDC’s report ranked the top EHR products for small physician practices. More information is available here.

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