The United States healthcare industry is currently in great disarray. Many unanswered questions – from healthcare reform to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) and stimulus dollars – will soon to be answered. This will trigger rapid adoption of EMR by practicing physicians in the US.

Many of the worlds largest companies – like Google, Microsoft, Intel & IBM – are focused on the infrastructure of EMR interoperability. Standards are being written and re-written for enabling interoperability and information exchange between healthcare applications like EMR, practice management systems, and labs. This is a great plan, however; adoption of EMR must precede this “Superhighway/ Infrastructure”. EMR software is the single largest application which will provide the majority of healthcare information traffic on this superhighway. A superhighway with no traffic is of no value. Traffic of information and the EMR are the keys.

This is why the adoption of an EMR solution must take place at the point of care before the industry can be linked to information exchange.

Today in the EMR industry, so few practices are on an EMR that the “Superhighway of Health Exchange” cannot even take shape or show value until this critical mass has been established. Once the adoption rate increases, the “ports” will find a way to be opened for cross-communication between different systems. Many practices are holding off on a decision to move to EMR for a variety of reasons. One that seems to appear often is the thought of Interoperability concerns between Physicians and their respected admitting privileged hospitals. As practicing physicians, investing in the right EMR is paramount to the continued success of a paperless medical practice.

So how do you push practices to adopt EMR? Ask right questions to safeguard against interoperability issues. A recommendation to considering an EMR is to ask if the product is HL7 compliant. This widely recognized platform will allow different systems to communicate with one another. CCR and CCD standards are now available for it. The concern of interoperability should be minimized, or dismissed entirely.

“I chose to buy an EMR now, to allow for time to implement and have my staff properly trained, so I can take full advantage of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act stimulus Dollars. I want my staff fully trained and implemented to be able to demonstrate “Meaningful Use of my EMR” by January 1, 2011. I understand that time to convert to EMR and become proficient and be able to demonstrate this “meaningful use” may take my practice a few months. So I acted now, to ensure my opportunity to realize the full cash benefit”.

Some items to ensure prior to this EMR investment include vendors’ compliance with Continuing Care Records (CCR), Continuing Care Documentation (CCD), and software compatibility for bilateral interfaces with laboratories and imaging centers. This will ensure your EMR selection is capable of migrating data to take advantage of the ARRA stimulus dollars by demonstrating “meaningful use”.

The healthcare industry will see inevitable tremendous growth in the next couple of years; perhaps even beyond the ability to deliver as rapidly as doctors might want.

The message: act now. Delaying this decision much longer could cost your practice thousands of dollars in lost revenue. This loss will come by a couple of ways: inadequate training by the vendor to “hurry things along”, a backlog of clients in need of assistance, reduced patient load as a direct result of the preceding factors.


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