What physicians must remember when considering an EMR

When considering something as operationally and administratively critical as an EMR, no detail is too small for consideration. Apart from cost, implementation, downtime, level of technology and staff bandwidth a physician must–unequivocally– consider how his or her patients will engage with this, the next frontier of medical records.

Because of the way information is shared, today’s healthcare system necessitates a new amended intent for primary care physicians. Because of the interconnectedness of our society, medical practitioners must address the needs of today’s media savvy patients, patients who expect instant accessibility to their medical information, anytime day or night. With instant access to the world through Facebook, Twitter, email and text messages, gone are the days of normal office hours. By extension, “peer-to-peer” EMR content has rapidly faded into the background as physicians, including myself, search for ways to more effectively manage patient care in a way that enables patients to be their own best advocates.

As an independent primary care physician, my top priority is to provide care to my patients. Every day, my intention is to furnish my patients with the care and information they need to live healthy and productive lives. With the federal regulations attached to the HITECH Act, physicians are flocking to EMRs because it is the expected (and mandated) course of action. But I beg you, fellow physicians:  Remember your function. Remember your patients.

With the advancements and added benefits of the patient engagement tools offered by some EMRs, things like patient health records, remote consultations, shared medical libraries, even online appointment scheduling, doctors can look at the EMR purchase decision not just for the practice-facing benefits but also for the patient-facing benefits. By providing physicians with a platform that facilitates interactions with patients, we can help patients have more control over their own health and care.

Is it really all that surprising that in a time when we can all manage our bank accounts and home security systems from our phones that the onus is on us, physicians and business owners, to accommodate our patients’ wishes for greater access to not only their medical records but to their doctors? It’s a question that crosses my mind each day as I reflect on my profession.

Peter Weigel is an internal medicine physician who practices at Medical Associates of Westfield in Westfield New Jersey. 

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  • stephen_armstrong

    Thanks for the post Dr. Weigel. It is an important call to action to remember that the
    patient should be at the focal point of the EMR decision too. It is this
    principle that guides our work at Hello Health to provide an EMR-based solution
    with capacity to connect with the patient through successive levels of
    engagement. Something I refer to as the Patient
    Engagement Pyramid.


  • itsonlypalliative

    with all the PROs and CONs that I have read on this site with regards to EMR/EHR, have any of you thought of getting with an IT company and having one developed strictly for your practice?

    • EMRTrainer

      @itsonlypalliative – Have you considered the cost of of a custom EMR system that is CMS compliant? Also it is not only the EMR you need to take into consideration. Is the IT company going to build your interfaces also? Like Lab, Hospital, ePrescribe (allery & drug interactions) and don’t forget interfacing with your practice management software so you can file claims (ANSI 5010 compliant) so you can get paid.

    • 5minCrush

      EMRTrainer has a very good point. Bespoke systems are often more complicated to set up, not only because of the regulatory requirements mentioned, but also scalability needs to be considered. How do you know how big your practice is going to be in five years? Will your system require change not if – but when – the CMS conditions change again? Will you need a server on site, and all the headaches that go with maintaining and upgrading your equipment as your needs and technology changes.

      Lucky there are certified, cloud-based systems out there that take the hassle out of implementing an EMR. Many of them come with customizable modules based on your speciality as well as ePrescription and Lab interfaces built in, or available as an add-in, and they take the hassle out of going electronic.

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