Study Finds Majority of Americans Support Use of EMR

According to a recent Reuters news article, 64 percent of people polled by the University of Chicago felt the benefits of electronic medical records outweighed concerns about privacy.

“A large majority of Americans support use of health IT to improve healthcare and safety, and reduce costs,” said Daniel Gaylin, the executive vice president for research at the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center.

Gaylin suggests that doctors using EMR are more likely to share relevant information with their patients. “It facilitates the exchange of information,” he tells Reuters.

Read the article


Tulsa Community College Launches EMR Program

A small community college in Tulsa has recognized the growing need for American workers who understand electronic medical records (EMR).


(Image courtesy of newson6.com Oklahoma)

As part of a special program, students at Tulsa Community College are learning to bridge the gap between information technology and medical records. As the government-subsidized switch to EMR moves forward, these students will be prepared and more employable in the healthcare industry.

Tuition in the program is also subsidized. “”If you succeed and pass everything, it’s basically free,” said Sandy Smith, Director of Health Information Technology at the college.

The idea of using EMR in a classroom setting is not a new concept, and actually pre-dates the current government effort to digitize medical records. Several years ago, a program at the University of Minnesota used a simulated EMR to assist the teaching of medical students. The students used the EMR system in a virtual visit: “by going to the clinic web page, signing in and viewing a simulation of a typical clinic electronic patient record system. This system details the patient’s demographic information, past medical history, family history, social history, and progress notes.”


Fully Functional EMR Systems Increase by 46% in 2010, says CDC

A recent survey from the CDC says that roughly half of physicians are using digital records. About 51 percent of the 7,000 doctors surveyed this year reported at least partial use of electronic medical records (EMR).

Some doctors are using a limited system for basic needs like viewing lab results and prescription writing, while others (about ten percent) are using a completely functional EMR system. The data, particularly when you examine the trends over the past 9 years, reflect a major increase in the use of EMR (see graph).


Graph image courtesy of CDC.gov

According to the CDC report:

“Between 2009 and 2010, the percentage of physicians reporting having systems that met the criteria of a basic or a fully functional [EMR] system increased by 14.2% and 46.4%, respectively.”

The survey found a “significantly higher” percentage of doctors in certain states reporting use of EMR. Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, Utah and North Dakota topped the list. Florida, Louisiana and Kentucky showed significantly lower numbers of physicians reporting EMR use.

Read the summary or download the entire report on CDC.gov


Meaningful Use Rules and EMR

“Meaningful use” final rule offers some flexibility


Physicians now can defer up to five EMR objectives in the first two years and still qualify for Medicare or Medicaid financial incentives.

The “meaningful use” final rule offers some flexibility, and physicians now can defer up to five EMR objectives in the first two years and still qualify for Medicare or Medicaid financial incentives. The final CMS rule divides the initial 25 meaningful use objectives into two categories: a core group of 15 objectives that physicians and hospitals must meet, and a “menu set” of 10 procedures from which they can choose any five to defer in 2011-12, the first round of the incentive program. CMS also softened some requirements to make them easier to achieve.  Read more about “meaningful use” in this informative article from the American Medical News.

You may also be interested in reading more about the “Meaningful Use” Regulation for Electronic Health Records from  the New England Journal of Medicine.


EMR on CBS Sunday Morning

This is story that aired on CBS Sunday Morning on Sept 13, 2009.

The story focuses on the medical industry’s adoption of electronic medical records, EMR, into medical facilities. Most hospitals and doctors still use paper to track patient information, which easily creates errors that could jeopardize a patient’s health. Dennis Quad’s two new babies were giving the wrong dosage of a medicine at 12 days old. Mr Quad points out that the use of EMR could have prevented the mistake

The Obama Administration’s passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, or what is referred to as the Stimulus Plan, has billions of dollars allocated as reimbursements to doctors for implementing and using electronic medical records. Doctors will start to receive payments in 2011 after they show that and EMR system is in place and is being used.

Some of the points made in this story:
• 100,000 patients die every year in hospitals due to errors.
• 83% of doctors store medical records on paper.
• Medical barcodes help reduce errors
• EMR will save time, save errors, and save lives
• Implementation of EMR will benefit patients.

Watch CBS News Videos Online


Is the EMR Meaningful Use Bar Set Too High?

Health and Human Services Department’s meaningful use group is readjusting the bar. According to George Hripcsak, MD, the co-chair of the HHS group, indicated that providers would still need to meet 80 percent of the requirements.

Areas being considered are patient engagement, care coordination, and public heath. Privacy and security will stay the same.

Read the full article here: Panel proposes reducing meaningful use measures


I Want Free Open Source EMR Software!

I’ve been reading a number of articles about open source EMR solutions for medical practices. One that I saw recently was Why Buy Open Source (Free) EMR Software. I know that open source has its place but I don’t think it’s in a medical practice. Many analogies come to mind when I think about an open source Electronic Medical Records system being used to track and store my medical history. I wouldn’t want a bunch of weekend mechanics working on my car, trying to make it more fuel efficient or functional based on what they think I need.

I did a quick search to see what the pros and cons are for open source software. Now I’ll tell you that I’m not going to read 1,420,000 entries on this subject. If you have the time, please feel free. Here’s the search link: Google Search – “pros and cons of open source software”

Some of the prominent entries I found on purchasing software created by a vendor in the industry are:

  • Focus – Who is designing the software: developers or medical practice staff? In many cases, it’s the developers. They create features based on their perceptions of what the business rules and business needs are.
  • Development – How well are the open source development procedures.
  • Testing – Is adequate testing of new functionality being performed. Will it crash when I update my application.
  • Support – Many open source solutions are developed by programmers that do the develop on the side or in their free time. If a new module or component is not working after being installed, who do you call for support?

All-in-all, it is up to the practice to decide which direction is the best for the medical practice. It is the responsibility of the practice to weigh all the pros and cons, and to understand the cost or value of the solution they are getting.

– The Digital Practice