EHRs Move to the Mainstream
The American public wants electronic medical records. A recent study by the University of Chicago reveals that Americans overwhelmingly support adoption of EHRs by providers. In a time where there often seem to be discrepancies between what the public wants and what the government does, it is exciting to see such strong alignment. This clearly has positive implications for the HITECH Act, but what does it mean for providers? Adoption of EMRs is becoming less about government incentives or penalties and more of an imperative for a successful practice.
The University of Chicago study found that 78% of Americans favor use of EMRs and nearly 60% of Americans believe that EMRs can improve care and reduce costs. Other interesting findings show that Americans see more benefit than risk in the use of EHRs and nearly ¾ of Americans see value in sharing health care information among providers. These findings are incredible.
Providers face the same pressures as any other business. They need to market themselves based on what distinguishes them from the competition and will keep them financially healthy. Just a few years ago, the norm was paper-based records and EMRs were a differentiating attribute. This is changing. Patients overwhelmingly recognize the value of the EHR and, spurred by government stimulus, they will soon become the standard.
This means that providers have more than just a government stimulus (or disincentives) driving them to adopt- they have public opinion. Underlying public opinion is the risk of being perceived as a lower quality provider if they forego or delay adoption. We are moving from the EHR early adopter to the early majority stage and the costs of not adopting grow daily.
The other, necessary part of the adoption story is cost. Providers have options when choosing an EHR vendor. There are hundreds of products with varying functionalities and costs. The business imperative though is payoff maximization – or the best combination of quality and cost. This is true for both those providers who haven’t yet adopted an EHR and for those who will need to undergo costly upgrades to qualify to receive stimulus benefits –both have costs (unless you adopt a free EHR) and both will yield payoffs.
Now that positive public perception of EHRs is the mainstream, providers must decide how to maximize their pending EMR investments. I encourage all providers to consider the value of a free, web-based EHR. It is an easy tactic to lower your adoption costs, derive maximum investment value, and increase the attractiveness of your practice for the overwhelming majority of Americans.
Health Policy Manager
Practice Fusion EHR