EMR and Older Doctors

Posted on December 9, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

Dr. Michael Koriwchak recently did a great post about implementing an EMR in a practice with an older physician. He does a great job analyzing the challenge that a group practice faces when one of the older physicians (I prefer mature physicians, but he said older) is the “lone hold-out.” Here’s his suggestion which is really valuable:

So the older doc who claims to be ready to retire may not retire as soon as he thinks. So do you let him opt out of EMR or not?

I would be happy to let him opt out of EMR…provided he commits in writing to a retirement date and allows the practice to begin making plans to recruit a replacement physician. The date would be fairly soon, no more than 18 months in the future. If he fails to retire by that date he would begin incurring costs related to EMR, both in take-home pay and retirement buy out.

This approach avoids the nearly impossible task of trying to calculate the return on investment “break-even point” for an EMR purchase, as many authors try to do.

This is definitely an interesting challenge. In response to Dr. Koriwchak’s post I wrote the following about the mature physician population and EMR:
No doubt there are a lot of interesting dynamics like this in a group practice. I’m glad you’re bringing them to light.

What I’ve found interesting in my experience is many of the really close to retirement age doctors that I know are actually quite happy to adapt to an EMR. They have some learning curve, but they aren’t generally the problems (although there are exceptions).

I’m not sure exactly why, but I think it might have to do with demeanor and their easy going personality and love of what they’re doing. If they didn’t have these qualities they would have retired from the medical profession already.

The hardest ones are the middle to upper age doctors that have 5-10 years before retirement. When they don’t want an EMR it’s an ugly situation.

Tell me about your experiences with mature doctors and EMR. Any secrets to be shared?