Practice Acquisitions By Hospitals Causing Issues with EHR Adoption

The readers of EMR and HIPAA have been incredible lately in sending in great commentary on the EMR industry. The following is one such commentary about the issues associated with the now widely seen trend of Hospitals acquiring practices. The person asked to remain anonymous and for the names of the specific EHR vendors to be removed. I agreed since I think the trend is more important than the specific companies.

One trend that I find extremely (and personally) troublesome is the migration from homegrown EMR’s to less functional Hospital based EMR’s – a migration that is occurring frequently now that most small practices are being purchased by Hospitals.

In our case, our small hospital administration decided unilaterally (without MD input) to implement a poorly designed EMR from it’s IT vendor. This has been a colossal failure, as none of the doctors were able to use the EMR. Hospitals are easily seduced by their IT vendors, and think that they can have only one software vendor. They think that all EMR’s are basically the same, either a Ford or a Chevy mentality. They don’t want the docs interfering with the decision process. They don’t have any idea of information and work flow in a doctor’s office. And now they are getting ARRA stimulus funds, and sometimes grant money from local endowments.

We doctors have asked that administration find us one practice that is successfully using the EMR they selected. I think they found 1 doctor 1,300 miles away who was able to make it tolerable. The hospital EMR is CHIT certified, so that doesn’t mean much. Hospital Software vendors have quickly tacked together some sloppy EMR’s in order to save their customer base, and have easily deceived administrators into buying these inferior products.

Our administration has pulled back from implementation, just having us use the scheduler, nursing putting in vitals/meds, and we just enter the ICD-9′s and charges. But another push to MU is coming soon. I have told admin that they must cut my daily schedule from 20 to 10 patients per day. I think that the ARRA stimulus funds and this whole Medicare push for EMR is having a negative effect so far, as least for me. I was using [EMR Vendor] (and still am unilaterally) to organize my data, and generate notes. It’s light years ahead of the EMR the software vendor selected.

I have heard my story repeated many times. The trend of Hospital owned practices may be inevitable, but it has severe negative consequences for EMR, in my opinion.

John’s Comments: While I don’t necessarily agree with the broad ranging comments about administrators not caring or listening to doctors, I’ve heard it far too many times to disagree completely. There’s little doubt from my experience that many hospitals don’t do a great job listening to doctors in selecting an EMR software. However, I’ve also seen many doctors who are terrible to work with when it comes to any discussion of an EMR. So, let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that the doctors are completely blameless either.

One important point that is made is that doctors like using EMR software that they select. As more and more hospitals acquire practices, this issue is going to come to a head. I won’t be surprised if it’s actually a major part of the reason that the cycle of independent doctors starts again.