Do Meaningful Use Requirements Justify an Electronic Medical Records (EMR) System?

Many small healthcare providers are confronted with a decision to either sell their practices or buy an Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system. One of our clients is confronted with the EMR dilemma right now. She compared the anxiety-ridden process to jumping off a diving board… without knowing whether the pool is filled or not.

For her six-physician practice, purchase and installation of an EMR system would cost $140,000. They are also considering the hidden costs of training for both staff and physicians. These can be significant in terms of money, as well as physicians’ time. In order to foot the bill, the firm needs outside help.

The government will pay an EMR incentive of $44,000 per physician at the practice ($264,000 total). This amount more than compensates for the EMR system’s upfront investment, but it might not compensate the full time cost. The funds are delivered over 5 years, leaving the practice in the red for the duration.

Medicare incentives offer the ability to pay off the initial investment incrementally, but that does little to ease the anxiety of jumping because her practice will be required to prove “meaningful use” annually for the incentive.

Anteing Up for a Game of Meaningful Use

Our client has decided they value independence over uncertainty, and they have decided to trudge on and find an EMR vendor. Her advice for navigating these murky technological waters is elegant. She says:

“The solution cannot be a global idea. Your people are going to make this change, and your vendors need to get to know your business and people. They need to be willing to take the extra time to sit down with that one doctor who doesn’t have faith, and show him/her how the change can be positive. You need to find vendors who understand your business, your cost concerns and your human resources.”

Her experience with us helped her realize she could ask for those qualities in an IT company, and we are honored to play a supportive role in her firm’s forthcoming decision.