Easy to Justify EHR Implementation at Hospitals

Posted on June 23, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Many people have been arguing that it’s an easier process for hospitals to be able to justify the implementation of an EHR thanks to the new EHR stimulus money. Even more important might be the 5% penalty for not implementing an EHR.

There’s no doubt that there’s a lot of money at stake in a large hospital system that has 100+ practices. You can do the math: number of providers x $44,000 = A lot of money. However you also have to add to that amount the penalties which is basically: Medcare reimbursement x 5% = Even more money.

I’m certain that every hospital in the US is keeping a close eye on these developments. Even large group practices have some of the same financial equations with just a little bit smaller scale.

What I think most people are forgetting is that there’s a reason most of these hospitals haven’t implemented an EHR. It’s not a simple task. We’re talking about getting hundreds or providers with even a larger number of workflows to agree on an EHR system and then implement it across multiple specialties.

I’ve talked about my experience before visiting what I believe is one of the largest EHR implementations in the US of its kind. They have 100 multi specialty clinics and have been working on their EHR implementation for at least 3 years (if my memory serves me right) when I met with them. After all these years of implementing they were still at about 25% implementation.

Not only had they only been able to implement that small percentage of practices, but they were also just starting to butt up against some major resistance based on the first 25% of practices implemented. Add on top of that the EHR vendor’s ability to support such a large implementation and they were running into some real slow downs.

Now I think this practice had made some real progress and had some pretty strong leadership at the top to even get where they were at the time. However, my point is that even with the best of intentions, these large hospital systems are going to have a major major challenge trying to implement such a large number of EHR in order to receive the ARRA money. Certainly there’s a lot of money at stake, but there’s also certain laws of time frames that makes this an almost impossible task to accomplish in the ARRA timeline.

The crazy thing is I haven’t even really talked about meaningful use in this post. I’m just talking about implementing the EHR and getting doctors to use it. Then, what effort will be required on top of that to show meaningful use of an EHR?