I’ve come across a number of websites and people who’ve made the assertion that with the short time frames for meaningful use, a SaaS EHR is the only option to be able to meet the meaningful use requirements in a timely manner. Let’s see if I can do my part to clarify this idea which isn’t completely accurate.
First, there is still plenty of time for a clinic to implement an EMR of any type and get EMR stimulus money. At some point this might change, but at this point we are still far enough out that time is not an issue. Although, I’ll admit that it would be helpful if CMS and HHS would finally get some EHR software certified and provide some practical meaningful use details. Of course, these details shouldn’t be stopping doctors from evaluating and planning for their EMR implementation.
Second, it is worth acknowledging that in general a clinical practice can implement an EMR faster if it’s a SaaS EMR and not a client server EMR. The time for the server to be shipped to your office alone just takes time not to mention getting an IT person or your EMR vendor to install the server in your office. However, if you need more computers and a laptop to be able to use your SaaS EMR, you’re going to be waiting for computers to arrive anyway. Generally though, SaaS EMR is faster to implement than client server.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t quickly implement a client server based EMR. For example, I implemented a local doctors office in a week from when the server arrived. It was an incredibly fast implementation. Other than ordering time (which they had to order workstations also), it was as fast as any SaaS EMR implementation. So, it’s certainly possible. You just better make sure you have the right IT people supporting your implementation.
My point in this post is that it’s mistaken to say that SaaS EMR is the only option that’s fast enough to implement in time for meaningful use. Many of the client server EMR companies out there have really streamlined the process for installing a server in a clinic. Although, this is not true for all of them. So, it’s a question worthy of asking any EMR company if you’re looking at compacted time lines.
At least for now, it’s a mistake to rule out a great client server EMR just based on the meaningful use time line. We’ll leave the other arguments for ruling out a client server EMR in favor of a SaaS EMR for another post.